Conference Prospects for Regional Integration in Africa – A Comparative Perspective: International MIASA Conference and Book Project
Conveners and Editors:
Prof. Andreas Freytag, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Prof. Abena Oduro, University of Ghana, Legon/Accra, Ghana
The African Union (AU) has recently taken bold steps to integrate the continent further. In 2015 members agreed on a broad integration plan, the Agenda 2063. A first success has already been achieved: The Agenda 2063 foresees a comprehensive free trade agreement which was to be finalized in 2017, and was eventually agreed upon in March 2018. Other steps are to follow, implying deeper integration with respect to movement of people, education and financial deepening, among others.
It seems as if the European model of integration is seen – consciously or by implication, and mostly uncritically – as a role model for African economic integration. This is not least because the EU has supported African integration efforts in the past in different forms, i.e. conceptually as well as materially. That said, it is by no means clear whether and if so, to what extent the European integration can be easily applied to African countries and their citizens. In addition, it is not obvious that it should. Indeed, many African policymakers and scholars raise doubts about the EU’s function as role model. They argue this with reference to historical analogies as well as institutional and cultural differences between the two continents.
Against this background, there is a need to carefully analyse the implications of more than sixty years of European integration. However, In addition, other continents’ (including African) experiences for the nascent African integration process have to be studied. Although it seems as if the European experience dominates the discussion, there is much potential to learn from integration processes all over the globe. African integration can very much benefit from a thorough study of integration successes and failures in Europe, Asia and Latin America as well as in Africa itself. A necessity for such an analysis is a multi-disciplinary setting that explicitly considers an African perspective.
An ideal form to bring together different – and probably rather diverse – experiences, is a book project in combination with an international conference organised by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) – in collaboration with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS) – where research results will be presented and discussed with a wider audience. Based on this conference, the book chapters shall be drafted by the scholars, either single-authored or co-authored.
The Themes of the Conference and Book
The planned international conference and book will highlight the significant similarities and differences between integration paths in Africa and other continents and thereby help policymakers to understand the mutual lessons from different integration experiences. It will provide opportunities for an informed and nuanced discourse on interdisciplinary perspectives, empirical findings and policy implications between non-African and African scholars, political office-bearers, policymakers in government, and representatives of international bodies. The book consists of three Parts.
Part I: The State of intra-African co-operation: ambition vs. reality
Part II: Experiences in other continents
Part III: Direct Lessons from other regional integration efforts