Bruce Byiers, Jaime de Melo, Ed Brown, ECDPM briefing note 106, September 2018.
This Briefing Note gives an overview of the complexities and challenges facing efforts at regional integration in Africa. Although frustration with progress in regional integration is widespread, ambitions continue to grow with the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Engagement with regional processes should be based on a very explicit understanding of the political economy of regional processes. This means taking account of political interests and incentives both within and between states to gauge where there is genuine traction for regional initiatives and therefore where external support might be effective. As part of thinking about furthering the regional agenda, this Briefing Note also points to the importance of effective monitoring, meaning not only following outcomes, but also tracking commitments made towards regional efforts.
A more realistic understanding of where and why countries engage in regional integration, and improved monitoring of actual engagement can help identify where to support countries in their efforts. But peer pressure and learning across regions can also play a role. The Pan African Coalitions for Transformation recently launched to play this role across a range of policy areas could help fulfil this role.