Regional organisations in Africa: What are the political economy dynamics?

Given the wide array of actors engaged with the African Union (AU) on its many agendas, and oft-cited frustrations among policymakers and their international partners about progress and implementation gaps, ECDPM has been working to understand the Political Economy Dynamics of Regional Organisations (PEDRO).

% Complete


    This research is focused on better understanding, and promoting discussion of, the interests and incentives of the range of different actors who seek to cooperate and integrate around regional agendas and ambitions, including international partners. That means exploring the interaction of a range of actors and factors that shape domestic politics, and how they interact with regional, continental, and international relations.

    Recent years have seen a new wave of dynamism at the African Union. Two main areas stand out:

    • Connecting markets and people – the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and Free Movement of People Protocol, a highly ambitious project that seeks to alter the development trajectory of the entire continent by promoting trade within the continent, both agreements opened for signature at the same time.
    • Institutional reforms of the AU – a range of proposals have emerged to address the issues raised by Kagame, in terms of internal functioning of the AUC, and its role in representing member states externally and the outreach of the Union to citizens.

    The synthesis note is comprises three summaries. This introductory summary sets the scene for two separate pages summarising the research on the above two areas of work.

    Get in touch

    For information about this synthesis note and to know more about ECDPM’s work on African institutions and regional dynamics, and on the PEDRO II project, please contact Bruce Byiers at

    Explore the overview

    Understanding political economy dynamics of regional organisations

    Explore the AfCFTA

    The AfCFTA - Connecting markets and people

    Explore the AU reforms

    AU reforms -adapting internally and externally

    Get in touch

    For information about this synthesis note please contact Bruce Byiers at

    This synthesis note was created by Bruce Byiers and Isabell Wutz building on the work and inputs of Philomena Apiko, Amanda Bisong, Bruce Byiers, Alfonso Medinilla, Martin Ronceray, Lidet Tadesse and Ueli Staeger (external). It is part of our work on the Political Economy Dynamics of Regional Organisations (PEDRO II) project. It builds on earlier works conducted under the Political Economy Dynamics of Regional Organisations (PEDRO), in line with ECDPM’s mission to inform and facilitate relations between Europe and Africa, and financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ.

    Loading Conversation