The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a regional grouping of 21 African States which have agreed to promote regional integration through trade development and transport facilitation. More information can be obtained from the COMESA website www.comesa.int. Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced professionals for the following position.
The conclusion of the AfCFTA comes in the wake of global trade facing a lot of uncertainty, with more countries becoming more protectionist and the global world trade order facing collapse due to rising tensions. Despite all this, Africa’s regional integration agenda remains at the core. The Protocol on Investments is meant to be continental wide project to protect and promote investments in Africa. The ultimate goal for the AU’s regional integration objectives should be to have one investment framework to regulate the whole continent.
Jonathan Bashi Rudahindwa’s monograph on regionalism in Africa is a timely addition to the literature on the topic. His focus is primarily on the creation of the African Economic Community (AEC). Created by treaty in 1991 the AEC lays down a path for Africa to follow towards the creation of an African common market. This is to be done in stages culminating in an economic and monetary union. The AEC thus seems to be a critical landmark in the evolution towards African economic unification.
The hallmark of Jonathan Bashi’s masterful analysis of the uniquely multifarious and variegated processes which set Africa apart from all other regional integration theatres (the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia) is its lucidity. His organising concept of ‘regional developmentalism through law’ as distinct from regionalism per se or regional economic integration is a genial critical and discursive move. It effectively critiques and corrects the concealed neoliberalism of integrationist discourse by 1) restoring the means-end relationship of regionalism to development, and 2) foregrounding the centrality and polyvalence of law as mechanism. For Bashi, the role of rules is not to serve markets, but to fashion, construct, and condition them.
The book provides a study of regionalism in the context of Africa and investigates the various ways in which law can be used to address the particular issues raised by regional schemes across the continent. Given the relatively slow pace and the apparent failure which seem to have characterised regional initiatives in Africa to date, this study is intended to contribute to the search for effective methods to ensure the success of those initiatives. This is conducted through the contemplation of the role that law can play to help achieve the various objectives assigned to regional schemes in the context of the Treaty of Abuja.
For the AfCFTA to succeed will require more than its regulatory framework; a supporting framework is also required and this is found in what Douglass North has termed “mental models”. Mental models are the necessary norms and beliefs of policy makers - their perceptions of the world around them.
Afronomicslaw.org is delighted to welcome Dr. Chris Nshimbi as a Contributing Editor. Dr. Chris Nshimbi is the Director and Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation Research Fellow in GovInn at the University of Pretoria.
Because Ethiopia is the headquarters of the African Union its role on regional integration is usually taken as given. It is usually assumed that the state has and is making efforts to integrate with the continent. In this essay, I contend that Ethiopia’s historical engagement with regional integration has been at best passive and vague. On the contrary, its focus on regional integration at the moment seems different and active.
In this essay, I argue that the AfCFTA needs to rethink its relationship with the continental emancipatory movements. Its focus on economic integration without social-emancipatory movements undermines its central aim of creating “the Africa we want.” Its top-down approach fails to capture labor movements in Africa. Additionally, by creating yet another integration organization in Africa despite the existence of several regional and continental integration projects it cashes organizational costs that could have been spent in creating a labor-friendly integration project.
Regional integration requires not only the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers, but also the removal of impediments that cause the physical movement of goods across borders to be slow and costly. These impediments may arise due to defects in policies, laws or procedures. Thus, trade should not only be liberalised, but it also needs to be facilitated. The World Trade Organization (WTO) defines trade facilitation as “the simplification, modernization and harmonization of export and import processes.” Six of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are land-locked (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Therefore, inefficiency and high costs in cross-border trade have detrimental impacts on their ability to participate in global, as well as in regional trade. SADC states are parties to several agreements that aim at facilitating trade. However, the implementation of obligations remains a chronic challenge.