COP26 ended with a palpable sense of despair as industrialised states failed once again to deliver on long-standing commitments to finance adaptation and mitigation efforts in the Global South. As attempts to reach accord floundered, private capital materialised as the most likely source of this vital funding. Whilst their dire situation may leave post-colonial states with no option but to accept this investment, its continued entrenchment in the economies and polities of the Global South can only serve to perpetuate the centuries-long cycle of subordination, dependence, and debt.
Structural Adjustment Programs
This post-lecture reflection captures critical discussions from the 6th guest lecture of the Academic Forum delivered by Professor Mohsen al Attar, Dean of the University of West Indies Law School. The theme of the guest lecture was 'Decolonisation of International Economic Law'. Focusing on five tenets - capitalism, epistemology/knowledge, colonialism, international law and political economy – which Professor Mohsen used as a frame to foreground his analysis, this piece, explores the prospects and challenges of decolonising International Economic Law. In keeping with the Academic Forum's focus, it is argued that uncritical/Eurocentric approaches to teaching IEL in African universities hamper efforts to decolonise our epistemologies. In exploring alternate ways to re-frame, the global economic order, this piece also highlights the idea of 'social justice' as a valuable metric of development, i.e. socio-economic equity that raises the standard of living to the greatest extent relative to each of our circumstances.
The Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA is far more than just a trade agreement. It embodies long-held aspirations for an integrated Africa which, in the words of Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, would be better equipped to “tackle hopefully every emergency, every enemy and every complexity.” As one of the flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063, the free trade initiative is envisioned as a pathway to an African renaissance in both economic and cultural terms. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the AfCFTA could integrate 55 African Union (AU) member states in a market of about 1.2 billion people with an estimated gross domestic product of US $ 2.5 trillion. Moreover, the area is expected to reflect the continent’s “common identity by celebrating our history and our vibrant culture.”
A response to informality includes the suggestion that policy makers should formalize informal entities and activities. This suggestion holds that, responding to informality in such a way will ultimately help create better jobs, improve productivity and reduce poverty. But then, the question again arises at this point: is formalization the optimal solution? Shouldn’t the focus in the short-term rather be to improve conditions for informal sector actors and the spaces in which they operate than formalize? These are some of the broad challenges facing Africa, the AU and the governments of respective member states and other stakeholders as Africa proceeds with the AfCFTA.