With the demonstration effect from ECOWAS/WAEMU, the international community could shift to a “contract with African neighborhoods” involving leading and lagging countries of the neighborhoods as well as the donors’ community providing the right incentives to ensure developmental regional cooperation initiatives. For instance, the governments of East, Central, South, and West African neighborhoods could commit to:
- Establishing “African Economic Areas” that would tie the economic interests of leading and lagging countries in each regional neighborhood tightly together.
- Allowing and maintaining the free movement of labor, capital, goods, and services within these areas.
- Maintaining and protecting access routes between land-locked countries and outlets for trade, and providing the political space to support investment in regional infrastructure.
In exchange for these actions, bilateral and multilateral development partners could commit to:
- A big increase in aid for improved social services and other life-sustaining infrastructure aimed at raising living standards and creation of portable human capital in lagging countries.
- Increased financial support for growth-sustaining infrastructure—ports, transport links, information and communication technology—in the leading countries where economic takeoff is most likely, as well as infrastructure to link the markets of large leading countries with labor, capital, goods, and ideas in smaller neighbors.
- Preferential access to the markets of high-income countries for sub-Saharan Africa’s exports, without strict rules of origin or eligibility criteria that impede rapid growth of trade in intermediate inputs with other developing economies.