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Breaking Free from Europe: Why Africa Needs Another Model of Regional Integration


Support for regional economic integration in Africa runs high amongst the continent's international development partners and African elites. However, its expression in European forms of economic integration is not appropriate to regional capacities and in some cases may do more harm than good. This lacuna is exacerbated by technical and theoretical analyses rooted either in economics or international relations literature. This article sets out to reconceptualise the foundations of African economic integration by reviewing key debates within each literature and comparing the results across disciplinary boundaries. Overall, it is concluded that a much more limited approach is required, one that prioritises trade facilitation and regulatory cooperation in areas related primarily to the conduct of business; underpinned by a security regime emphasizing the good governance agenda at the domestic level. Care should be taken to design the ensuing schemes in such a way as to avoid contributing to major implementation and capacity challenges in establishing viable and legitimate states. In doing so, the presence of regional leaders with relatively deep pockets - South Africa in the Southern African case - points to the imperative of building such limited regional economic arrangements around key states.
Keywords: Regional integration, Africa, governance, regulations, trade facilitation