This blog piece is a reflection on the core arguments from this conference. Notably, Prof. Arewa explored the broader relationship between Africa and international law governance. Within this general theme, Prof. Arewa discussed the link between copy-and-paste laws, the relationship between internal and external legal perspectives, the importance of measurement systems, the lack of understanding of our legal systems, and Africa's place in the COVID-19 vaccine struggle. This piece will evaluate Prof. Arewa and other speakers' thoughts on how COVID-19 brought Africa's broader problems into light, as well as the measures that could be taken to pivot for effective African solutions. This piece will specifically outline the speakers' views on the place and benefits of regional integration and the emerging digital economy's benefits to Africa. Finally, the piece will conclude by drawing the recommendations made as a way forward for Africa.
African Regional Integration
Towards the end of 2020, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), launched a training and research initiative on “Digital trade regulatory integration in Africa”, focusing on 11 pilot countries. Based on their background and expertise in the area, researchers from Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia were selected to build two databases, for each of countries of focus, on various measures related to digital services trade regulations and digital trade integration, respectively.
This colloquium will examine Africa’s response to the pandemic, in particular, those relating to international economic law. This colloquium fills the gap left by the absence of our biennial conference in 2021 and will instead hold virtually in July 2021.
With an increase in the spread and impact of independent regulatory agencies, Africa now has a nascent but significant network of competition authorities and other economic regulators. This growth in African regulatory practice and influence contribute to the value of adding competitiveness to the theory and practice of African regional integration. To add competitiveness may well increase the total benefits and speed of these developments of multinational agreements and regional integration. A competition policy for Africa consistent with developmental integration should attend to enforcement institutions (courts and authorities) and be flexible regarding its national/supranational balance.
Many mainstream discussions on African regional integration focus on the role of the executive, bureaucrats and state institutions (hereafter referred to as state-actors) in facilitating regional integration. While state-actors play crucial roles in enabling regional integration from a “top-down” perspective, concentration on these state-actors inadvertently means that less focus is paid to the non-state actors involved in the process. This article explains that while state-actors do facilitate regional integration from a top-down perspective, non-state actors have the potential to (and in some cases, already do) facilitate regional integration using a “bottom-up” approach.