Here are some thoughts around these developments which could have both positive and negative implications for the region moving forward. West African leaders should consider these as they make their decisions about which approach to adopt.
It is difficult in just a few lines to deal with a subject as complex as the monetary cooperation agreement that is supposed to govern the transition from the CFA franc to the ECO. The “franc zone” in Africa comprises two types of CFA Franc, each with a specific denomination: that of the countries of West Africa and that of Central Africa, to which is added the franc of the Union of the Comoros. The focus here is on the West African zone.
This Symposium is jointly organized by AfronomicsLaw, the Chair of International Relations at the Hochshule für Politik, Technical University of Munich Germany, and the Mandela Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. It builds on a paper written by Prof Tim Büthe and Vellah Kedogo Kigwiru in the inaugural issue of African Journal of International Economic Law, titled 'The Spread of Competition Law and Policy in Africa: A Research Agenda'. The journal article set out a research agenda for better understanding the reality, promise, and limitations of competition law and policy in Africa at the n1ational and regional level. Consequently, this Symposium brings together competition law scholars, practitioners, and competition agencies' bureaucrats across the world to critically and comparatively discuss the reality, promises, and challenges facing the enforcement of specifically regional level competition policies in the Global South.
We are keenly following the unfolding developments in Nigeria and in the sub-Saharan countries that are on the cusp of adopting competition laws, and of course the developments in the AfCFTA as well as ECOWAS/WAEMU and other regionals. We hope to engage with these developments, and hope that our book can provide some insights and a perspective; a building block for moving forward towards a Voice for Africa.
Fox and Bakhoum’s fairly broad analysis focusing on West, East, and Southern African countries brings to fore the real challenges at play in Africa. It is a fragmented, stratified yet at times vertically united legal and policy landscape. While they observe the need for convergence of competition law at the continental or regional level, they note the different states of developmental progress among sub-Saharan African countries hence concede the need for the fragmented approach
Fox and Bakhoum contextualize competition law by describing (in chapters 2 and 3) the structure and other key characteristic of markets in numerous African countries, including the economic and political history of those countries and their markets, as well as the legacies of colonization and decolonization – and by highlighting more broadly the economic challenges and needs of the people of Africa.
Arguably, Fox and Bakhoum’s Making Markets Work for Africa does more than take part in this literature, it helps bring it into focus, crystallizing its insights and articulating a number of its internal debates. Perhaps this assessment should be nuanced a bit. Despite their extensive footnotes and their admirable collaborative scholarship and drive to work from and with African sources (for instance with the Quarterly Competition Review produced by CCRED), the book is focused more on the policy problem than on the existing literature about the problem. This is not a book about books; it is a book about identifying a complex economic situation with challenges and opportunities and charting and driving a particular line in favour of a better life for Africa’s population.
Africa is currently at a risk of reaching the zenith of bilateralism/regionalism in terms of the number of regional trade agreements (RTAs) present in the continent. Yet the advantages of close economic integration have not yet been adequately witnessed in African Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). Moreover, it is generally the case that each African state is a member to at least two or more RTAs. This has created the quintessential spaghetti bowl on the continent.