The commitment of African leaders to subregional economic integration is a test of good leadership, and the continent will almost never be able to take full advantage of its natural resources without economic integration.

     One of the causes of the world’s persistent economic crises resides in the poor demand of African countries. Economic integration can boost not only the development, but also the demand of African countries, and make them true partners of the industrialized countries. Beggars are not viable economic partners.

     The above observations seem to indicate that Africa should gear its future economic relations toward the USA as its first partner. Although today there is little difference between the policy pursued by Europe and that of the USA toward Africa, many in Africa today are becoming more and more convinced that the political and academic elite of the African American community, together with the African and American power groups could, if they would, offset this policy and get US support for sustained growth and development of the continent. Many in Africa today believe that the time has come for the USA to challenge European supremacy in Africa, de facto, and to extend its current financial policy to the African poles (South Africa and Egypt) and to the rest of the African countries.

     The first phase of an African economic integration approach must emphasize food security and food self-sufficiency. For the African subregions, the objective should be to create subregional common markets for food products. The economic system should foster food production capabilities: agricultural research, fertilizer and pesticide manufacture, agricultural tools and machinery production, biotechnology, interconnection of subregional road networks, coastal shipping, interconnection of subregional electricity grids, promotion of agro-food industry and total liberalization of trade in food products among member countries. American technical support at this stage would be crucial in the field of agricultural research, improved seeds and breeds, biotechnology, joint ventures for large modern farms and for agro-food industry, etc.

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August 1999