The Africa regional integration index is designed to measure the extent to which each country in Africa is meeting its commitments under the various pan-African integration frameworks, such as Agenda 2063 and the Abuja Treaty.
The index, which is a joint project of the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa, covers the following dimensions: free movement of persons, trade integration, productive integration, regional interconnections and infrastructure, and macroeconomic policy convergence.
Overall, Lesotho appears to perform strongly in the area of trade integration and moderately in that of free movement of persons relative to other SADC members.
In terms of specific policy measures that could boost its performance, Lesotho could consider Waiving visa requirements or granting visas on arrival for nationals of a greater number of African countries, Upgrading its internet infrastructure.
- Tenth in SADC (score: 0.39).
How Lesotho Ranks Within SADC
Compare Lesotho's Dimension Scores
Analysis of Lesotho's Performance Across Dimensions
Free movement of persons: African countries are scored based on two indicators in this dimension of the Africa Regional Integration Index: the proportion of REC-level protocols on free movement of persons ratified (out of those RECs of which the country is a member) and the number of other African countries whose nationals are allowed to enter visa-free or with a visa on arrival. Lesotho scores moderately in this dimension compared to other SADC members. According to sources consulted, it allows nationals of 25 other African countries to enter visa-free or with a visa on arrival. Lesotho has ratified the relevant SADC instruments concerning free movement of persons, rights of establishment and free movement of workers (i.e. articles 14, 17 and 18 of the SADC Treaty) (ECA, AfDB and AUC, 2012; ECA, AUC and AfDB, 2013; ECA and AUC, 2015).
Trade integration: The Index includes a number of indicators of trade integration, including average applied tariffs on intra-REC imports and intra-REC goods imports and goods exports. Trade in services is not included due to a lack of data on intra-African trade in services. Lesotho performs relatively strongly compared to other SADC members in the dimension of trade integration.
Examining these indicators in detail, in 2014 Lesotho had an average applied tariff of zero on imports from SADC, which is joint-lowest among the members of that REC (with Mauritius and Swaziland) (UNSD, 2015; ITC, 2015). Lesotho’s trade with SADC as a share of its GDP is strong. In 2012, the country’s imports from SADC amounted to 61 per cent of its GDP, placing it first within the bloc on this measure. Lesotho also performs strongly in terms of its exports (excluding re-exports) to the rest of SADC as a share of its GDP. Fourteen per cent of the country’s GDP was accounted for by exports (less re-exports) to SADC in 2012, which means that it ranks fourth within the bloc. Swaziland performs strongest among SADC members on this measure, with exports to other SADC members (less re-exports) accounting for 30 per cent of GDP (UNSD, 2015; UNCTADStat, 2015; national statistics offices).
Productive integration: Lesotho’s performance within SADC in terms of its integration into regional value chains could be improved. Lesotho is forty-ninth in UNCTAD’s Merchandise Trade Complementarity Index, which measures the extent to which a country’s trade is complementary with that of its partners. This suggests the need for more specialization through trade between Lesotho and other countries in the region.
Lesotho’s performance within SADC in terms of its integration into regional value chains could be improved. Lesotho is forty-ninth in UNCTAD’s Merchandise Trade Complementarity Index, which measures the extent to which a country’s trade is complementary with that of its partners. This suggests the need for more specialization through trade between Lesotho and other countries in the region.
Infrastructure: Lesotho’s infrastructural integration with the rest of the continent appears vis-à-vis other members of SADC could also be improved. Based on the latest available data (2013), Lesotho’s internet bandwidth per capita of around 0.3 megabits per second per person is 33rd-highest on the continent. Internet bandwidth is important for international communication, both within Africa and beyond, including to support trade in services. However, 100 per cent of international flights to and from Lesotho in June 2014 were intra-SADC, meaning that it ranks joint-highest among members of that REC on this measure, along with Swaziland.
- Free movement of persons: joint 8th in SADC (score: 0.6).
- Trade integration: 6th in SADC (score: 0.54).
- Productive integration: 15th in SADC (score: 0.07).
- Infrastructural integration: 15th in SADC (score: 0.29).
- Financial integration and macroeconomic policy convergence: 7th in SADC (score: 0.42).
ECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), AfDB (African Development Bank) and AUC (African Union Commission), 2013. Assessing Regional Integration in Africa VI: Harmonizing Policies to Transform the Trading Environment, pp.3-4, Addis Ababa: ECA.
ECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), AfDB (African Development Bank) and AUC (African Union Commission), 2012. Assessing Regional Integration in Africa V: Towards an African Continental Free Trade Area, Addis Ababa, United Nations.
ECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa) and AUC (African Union Commission), 2015. ‘Report on the state-of-play of progress towards regional free trade areas (FTAs) at regional economic community level, both in the Tripartite and other regional economic communities, paper presented to the eighth conference of African Ministers of Trade, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8-15 May 2015.
2015a. ‘Africa Regional Integration Index: emerging findings’, paper presented to a side event of the eighth AU-ECA Conference of Ministers, Addis Ababa, 16 March 2015.
ITC, 2015. Authors’ calculations based on ITC MAcMap database, accessed at macmap.org
UNCTADStat, 2015. Authors’ calculations based on statistics from UNCTADStat database at http://unctadstat.unctad.org/.
UNSD (United Nations Statistics Division), 2015. Authors’ calculations based on statistics from UN Comtrade database at comtrade.un.org and national accounts data available at data.un.org.