There were four key developments in the month just gone. Two-were beyond our control, being revelations about how important global players see Africans. The other two will dramatically ease the journey towards African integration, and as such are completely within our control.
So what were the two sets of issues? The first concerned Donald Trump again repeating his African sh**ole country insult, this time indirectly, during his attack on Democratic Congress women, half of whom have African ancestry.
This was followed in the same week by former US National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, having to rebuke the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan for his public statement that African-Americans create sh**ole neighbourhoods in the US.
At the time of going to press, both provocateurs and their governments were refusing to apologise for the comments. They probably rightly believe that an Africa dependent on them for aid and investment, is in no position to defend her dignity or those of her descendants.
Which is precisely the reason the second two developments are so important. The first of these involved ECOWAS's speeding up of the much-delayed implementation of the West African single currency, the eco, which will now take place by 2020. The proposed eco will improve cross-border trade, eliminate the use of third-country currencies (including the dollar), reduce smuggling, and enable increased growth and economic development across a market of 385m.
The second, related development was the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the AU conference in Niger, with Accra selected to host the Secretariat.
AfCFTA will create a single market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and lead to a continental customs union, which will bring together over a billion people in 54 countries with a combined GDP of $3.4trn.
Kwame Nkrumah who dreamed of this over 60 years ago, would be very happy, especially given a united Africa would be stronger in trade negotiations, rather than individual countries being picked off to sign one-sided deals. The AfCFTA will also begin the process of moving towards a single African currency.
Politics matter in the end
Why is this latter point important? Currently the combined nominal African GDP calculated at market or government exchange rates is $3.4trn, about the size of the UK economy. However, if we...