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GREAT insights Magazine

Regional integration dynamics in Africa

Volume 5, Issue 4 (July/August 2016)

July 2016

ECDPM. 2016. Thematic focus: Regional integration dynamics in Africa. GREAT Insights Magazine - Volume 5, Issue 4. July/August 2016.

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Dr. San Bilal, Head of Economic Transformation and Trade Programme, ECDPM
Regional integration holds many promises, generates many fears, and results in many disappointments. This is because levels of ambitions often differ among regional partners and among domestic actors, and do not match implementation realities. Progress and achievements are often overlooked, whereas difficulties and constraints encountered are emphasised. And integration agendas are commonly criticised for not sufficiently reflecting domestic concerns and interests.


Regional integration journey in Africa
Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division, UNECA
There is enough evidence on the ground to support Africa’s sustained efforts in implementing its regional integration agenda. The Africa Regional Integration Index is an action tool measuring such progress. Yet, Member States and the RECs need to do more in order to accelerate the process.

Making regional integration in Africa work… better
Jan Vanheukelom and Bruce Byiers,Senior Adviser and Senior Policy Officer (respectively), ECDPM
A recent study by ECDPM on the Political Economy of Regional Integration in Africa, tried to identify drivers and obstacles to effective implementation of regional agreements, with the ultimate aim of answering the question: how to make regional integration in Africa work better?

Cautious optimism for regional integration in sub-Saharan Africa
Paul Brenton, Lead Economist, and Barak Hoffmann, Public Sector Specialist, World Bank
This article is a revised version of a summary chapter in the World Bank report: Political economy of regional integration in sub-Saharan Africa. The report finds that regional integration in this area is more successful than one would expect given the difficult setting in which it takes place.

The diversity of African regionalism
Daniel Bach, Director of Research Emeritus, Emile Durkheim Centre; Professor, Sciences Po Bordeaux
The diversity of African regionalisms remains largely overlooked. Far from being of marginal significance, what is at stake within regional groupings and across the borders of the continent helps to make sense of dynamics that are truly global.

External support

Why aiding regional integration in Africa does not work
Fredrik Söderbaum, Professor, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg
Many donors are enthusiastically supporting regional cooperation and integration in Africa. This article gives two main reasons why external support to regional cooperation and integration in Africa does not work so well.

The EU’s new approach to funding regional cooperation
Alisa Herrero Cangas and Cecilia Gregersen, Policy Officers, ECDPM
Financial support to regional cooperation and integration remains a key building block in the EU’s foreign and development policy toolkit. Looking at lessons from past practice, designing effective programmes will require a more sophisticated understanding of what drives regional agendas and should be geared towards producing a higher impact rather than higher disbursement rates.


New AU-RECs relationship needed for integration
Raheemat Momodu, ECOWAS Liaison Office, African Union
Africa must face the stark reality that integration is the fastest and surest pathway to building strong national economies. To ensure success in re-orienting and re-directing the continent towards this fundamental paradigm shift, a rethinking and re-tweaking of the institutional relationship between AU Member States, the AU and RECs must first take place.

Civil society role in SADC integration: A missed opportunity
Chenai Mukumba, Centre Coordinator, and Muntanga Musiwa, Assistant Programme Officer, CUTS International
Although the Southern African Development Community has made numerous statements about the importance of civil society engagement in its processes, the reality on the ground indicates that there is still much to be done to improve this relationship.

Indigenous business for regional dynamics in Africa
Okechukwu C. Iheduru, Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University
Large-scale indigenous entrepreneurs are helping shape Africa’s regional dynamics. Two West African examples, namely industrial investment and infrastructure development and financial integration, demonstrate the socialisation effects of business in the unfolding drama of new regionalism in Africa.

A collaborative platform promoting regional integration
Marianne Camerer, Building Bridges Programme Director, University of Cape Town
Issues of visas, free movement of people, encouraging cultural, academic, leadership exchanges are crucial and key to regional integration. Governments need to be a key part of the conversation and encouraged not to be limited by national domestic agendas for short political gain.


Promoting business ‘un’usual for food security
Sean Woolfrey, Policy Officer, ECDPM
More inclusive and commercially relevant approaches are needed to ensure regional cooperation under CAADP yields concrete results for agricultural transformation and food security, but such approaches are not without their challenges.

Railway rivalry in the East African Community
Brian Cooksey, Independent Researcher
Politics rather than economics are driving multi-billion dollar investments in new ports and railways.


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This publication benefits from structural support by ECDPM’s institutional partners The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark. 


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