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REGIONAL INTEGRATION IN AFRICA: DECONSTRUCTING THE STATE, CONSTRUCTING A PARADIGM SHIFT.

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Presentation on theme: "REGIONAL INTEGRATION IN AFRICA: DECONSTRUCTING THE STATE, CONSTRUCTING A PARADIGM SHIFT."— Presentation transcript:

1 REGIONAL INTEGRATION IN AFRICA: DECONSTRUCTING THE STATE, CONSTRUCTING A PARADIGM SHIFT

2 The main contention in this paper is that in terms of policy making and execution state actors must accommodate other integrative forces at work at different levels, whether at the form of micro-regions, cross border operations, regional public goods, and non-state actors in general. That is, a multi-pronged approach, including the reconstituted state, would better reflect reality and be more useful.

3 Predominant characteristics of the post- colonial state in Africa: It has been omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. It has been omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. The common qualities usually attributed to the state are that it must have territory, people, government, and authority for the legitimate use of coercive force. Arguably, this is not always been applicable to states in Africa The common qualities usually attributed to the state are that it must have territory, people, government, and authority for the legitimate use of coercive force. Arguably, this is not always been applicable to states in Africa

4 Post-colonial African political elites attempted to build on the inherited colonial state and in the process transform it into a replica of the Western model. The results have been disastrous as the latter had distinctly different origins and reference framework. Post-colonial African political elites attempted to build on the inherited colonial state and in the process transform it into a replica of the Western model. The results have been disastrous as the latter had distinctly different origins and reference framework. Political independence was not accompanied by a reconstruction of the colonial state, a European construct, to make it more relevant to the environment and better respond to the needs of the indigenous peoples. The post- colonial state remained not as an alternative but as a successor to the colonial state. Political independence was not accompanied by a reconstruction of the colonial state, a European construct, to make it more relevant to the environment and better respond to the needs of the indigenous peoples. The post- colonial state remained not as an alternative but as a successor to the colonial state.

5 What were some of the preeminent manifestations of the colonial state that were inherited by the post-colonial state? First, the colonial state was authoritarian and repressive. First, the colonial state was authoritarian and repressive. Second, it played a major role in the economy, with an all-dominant public sector. Second, it played a major role in the economy, with an all-dominant public sector. Third, the colonial bureaucracy, as a major component of the state, was highly centralized. Third, the colonial bureaucracy, as a major component of the state, was highly centralized. Fourth, the Western state system coexisted with indigenous governance systems and models. Fourth, the Western state system coexisted with indigenous governance systems and models.

6 Fifth, vast amounts of resources were directed at eliminating all contending political authorities or divesting them of any meaningful functions. This included not only opposition political parties but non- state actors of all hues, traditional institutions and socio-economic bodies. Fifth, vast amounts of resources were directed at eliminating all contending political authorities or divesting them of any meaningful functions. This included not only opposition political parties but non- state actors of all hues, traditional institutions and socio-economic bodies. Sixth, the spread of the African state resulted in its presence being felt in all areas of socio-economic life. Not only within what was traditionally the public sector but also in most parts of the private sector. Sixth, the spread of the African state resulted in its presence being felt in all areas of socio-economic life. Not only within what was traditionally the public sector but also in most parts of the private sector.

7 In terms of performance the state in Africa has fallen far short of the basics: It has not proven to be developmentalist – in this area it is more a part of the problem than a solution to the problem. Neither have the economies impacted positively on the vast proportion of the populations; rather, poverty has deepened. It has not proven to be developmentalist – in this area it is more a part of the problem than a solution to the problem. Neither have the economies impacted positively on the vast proportion of the populations; rather, poverty has deepened. Capacity for policy implementation has been considerably limited and substituted by non- governmental and faith-based organizations, and an informal sector growing at exponential rates. Capacity for policy implementation has been considerably limited and substituted by non- governmental and faith-based organizations, and an informal sector growing at exponential rates.

8 The sovereignty of the post-colonial African state is compromised by the fact that it is so deeply dependent on the ex-colonial powers and the international community to solve its developmental and other problems including those directly associated with regime survival. The sovereignty of the post-colonial African state is compromised by the fact that it is so deeply dependent on the ex-colonial powers and the international community to solve its developmental and other problems including those directly associated with regime survival. The inability of the African state to prevent, manage and resolve most conflicts, especially resource-based conflicts, has been a burden to the international community. The inability of the African state to prevent, manage and resolve most conflicts, especially resource-based conflicts, has been a burden to the international community.

9 Similarly, the post-colonial state has demonstrated limited competences to effectively resolve post-elections and border conflicts. Similarly, the post-colonial state has demonstrated limited competences to effectively resolve post-elections and border conflicts.

10 The state and regional integration Regional integration has always been regarded as a panacea for resolving Africa’s multiple predicaments, particularly through economic and political unification. As such, states have enjoyed almost absolute monopoly of action.

11 They were: The sole parties to the creation of a multiplicity of specialized, single-purpose, multi-purpose, and general- purpose bodies for implementing a diversity of integration policies and programmes at continental, regional, sub-regional and bilateral levels. The sole parties to the creation of a multiplicity of specialized, single-purpose, multi-purpose, and general- purpose bodies for implementing a diversity of integration policies and programmes at continental, regional, sub-regional and bilateral levels. At the regional level the landscape has been littered with inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), usually of a technical character; they also were created by states which have policy-making, management and oversight responsibilities on their operations. At the regional level the landscape has been littered with inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), usually of a technical character; they also were created by states which have policy-making, management and oversight responsibilities on their operations.

12 States were the sole actors in the formulation and implementation of such seminal documents embodying collective self-reliance and regional integration as the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA, 1980) and the Abuja Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (AEC, 1991). States were the sole actors in the formulation and implementation of such seminal documents embodying collective self-reliance and regional integration as the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA, 1980) and the Abuja Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (AEC, 1991). Abundant are the resolutions, declarations, protocols, plans of action, statements, and charters adopted by member states of equally abundant organizations, all purporting to further regional integration in the continent. Abundant are the resolutions, declarations, protocols, plans of action, statements, and charters adopted by member states of equally abundant organizations, all purporting to further regional integration in the continent.

13 In terms of the actual performance of these regional integration entities the results have been mixed. But the overwhelming verdict from among a wide and varied range of students of African integration is that the realization of the fundamental end-goals is as distant as they ever were. Persistent problems include: The perennial pressing business of the rationalization of the institutional arrangements for continental integration persists, first, in terms of the overlapping memberships of the regional communities and, second, in the sheer numbers of IGOs in each sub-region; what is termed elsewhere as the ‘African Spaghetti Bowl’. The perennial pressing business of the rationalization of the institutional arrangements for continental integration persists, first, in terms of the overlapping memberships of the regional communities and, second, in the sheer numbers of IGOs in each sub-region; what is termed elsewhere as the ‘African Spaghetti Bowl’.

14 Ratification of protocols has been another area of concern. Of the 34 protocols and conventions that had been ratified and entered into force as at May 2005 there was an average of three-and-a half years between signing and ratification. Nine protocols took five years or more to come into force and a similar number have not been ratified by the required number of states to come into effect. Ratification of protocols has been another area of concern. Of the 34 protocols and conventions that had been ratified and entered into force as at May 2005 there was an average of three-and-a half years between signing and ratification. Nine protocols took five years or more to come into force and a similar number have not been ratified by the required number of states to come into effect. Some of the economic communities have too wide- ranging objectives and programming requirements covering economic, political, legal, social, cultural and other sectors. Some of the economic communities have too wide- ranging objectives and programming requirements covering economic, political, legal, social, cultural and other sectors.

15 There has been a massive increase in ‘loads’ assigned to the regional secretariats just as in the instance of the national states themselves. These emanate from four sources, namely, the original economic integration agenda, new political/human security engagements (conflict prevention and management), the expanded mandates of existing treaties, and continental demands especially as regards the AEC Treaty and the AU. There has been a massive increase in ‘loads’ assigned to the regional secretariats just as in the instance of the national states themselves. These emanate from four sources, namely, the original economic integration agenda, new political/human security engagements (conflict prevention and management), the expanded mandates of existing treaties, and continental demands especially as regards the AEC Treaty and the AU. There has been a tendency for member states to assign responsibility for emergent areas of cooperation to the regional organizations. There has been a tendency for member states to assign responsibility for emergent areas of cooperation to the regional organizations.

16 The expansion in the scope of the integration agenda is not commensurate with the financial and other wherewithal at the disposal of regional secretariats. There remain inadequate capabilities and limited resources both for strengthening internal capacities and for programme implementation. The expansion in the scope of the integration agenda is not commensurate with the financial and other wherewithal at the disposal of regional secretariats. There remain inadequate capabilities and limited resources both for strengthening internal capacities and for programme implementation. The problem of inadequate capacities and capabilities for formulation, implementation, coordination and monitoring of integration policies and programmes is also prevalent at the national state level, i.e., the institutional architecture at this level is woefully fragile. Yet, it is precisely at this level that ultimate responsibility for implementing protocols etc. and integration programmes rests. The problem of inadequate capacities and capabilities for formulation, implementation, coordination and monitoring of integration policies and programmes is also prevalent at the national state level, i.e., the institutional architecture at this level is woefully fragile. Yet, it is precisely at this level that ultimate responsibility for implementing protocols etc. and integration programmes rests.

17 An integral aspect of this condition is the problem of building regional integration objectives and programmes into national development frameworks. Or, at a minimum, the coordination of policies and programmes so as to ensure consistency between governmental actions at national levels and commitments at regional levels. An integral aspect of this condition is the problem of building regional integration objectives and programmes into national development frameworks. Or, at a minimum, the coordination of policies and programmes so as to ensure consistency between governmental actions at national levels and commitments at regional levels.

18 Contours of a Paradigm Shift The evidence adduced in the paper reveals some of the shortcomings of state-managed regional integration in Africa. To a great extent, the inherent drawbacks are to be found in the character of the post-colonial state for in this approach it is assumed that an effective regional integration can only be built on an effective and capable state system.

19 Through the decades the limelight has been heavily focused on states and the formal actions adopted by them in furtherance of integration goals and objectives at sub-regional, regional and continental levels. Inter-governmentalism and institutionalism held sway - on the part of academics and researchers, non-academic commentators, and policy analysts alike.

20 The last two decades or so have seen attempts by a dedicated group of academic researchers to shift the focus away from the state to other actors and from the centre to other levels of activity. According to this New Regionalism Approach (NRA) the focus ‘should not be only on state actors and formal regionalism but also on non-state actors and what is broadly referred to as ‘informal regionalism’ or ‘regionalism from below’.

21 Other grounds for the NRA include the following: First, it was important that the previously dominant model which almost exclusively concentrates on formal institutional frameworks should be challenged if for no reason than that states had proven themselves not fit for purpose, as glaringly shown earlier. First, it was important that the previously dominant model which almost exclusively concentrates on formal institutional frameworks should be challenged if for no reason than that states had proven themselves not fit for purpose, as glaringly shown earlier. Second, older approaches do not reflect what is happening on-the-ground but accept without questioning the ‘often optimistic and unrealistic accounts of what state actors say they are going to do to build regions.’ Second, older approaches do not reflect what is happening on-the-ground but accept without questioning the ‘often optimistic and unrealistic accounts of what state actors say they are going to do to build regions.’

22 Third, these other approaches do not have any relationship with the realities of regionalism besides demonstrating the chasm between ideal and reality. Third, these other approaches do not have any relationship with the realities of regionalism besides demonstrating the chasm between ideal and reality. Fourth, most mainstream studies are of Western origins (dealing with the European Union) which serve as reference models and ideal types; it is against these experiences that regionalism in Africa is often assessed. On the contrary, the NRA is grounded on the need to ‘unpack’ the state ridding it of Western conceptions. Fourth, most mainstream studies are of Western origins (dealing with the European Union) which serve as reference models and ideal types; it is against these experiences that regionalism in Africa is often assessed. On the contrary, the NRA is grounded on the need to ‘unpack’ the state ridding it of Western conceptions.

23 Fifth, the track record of formal regionalism and intergovernmental regional organizations has not been impressive, resulting in a lack of real genuine interest in them by both national policy makers and regional/continental policy implementors. In contrast, informal processes are dynamic and produce visible results. Fifth, the track record of formal regionalism and intergovernmental regional organizations has not been impressive, resulting in a lack of real genuine interest in them by both national policy makers and regional/continental policy implementors. In contrast, informal processes are dynamic and produce visible results. The conclusion that follows is that the conventional ‘top-down’ preoccupations of the institutionalists/intergovernmentalists need to be domesticated through a ‘bottom-up’ emphasis. The conclusion that follows is that the conventional ‘top-down’ preoccupations of the institutionalists/intergovernmentalists need to be domesticated through a ‘bottom-up’ emphasis.

24 In line with reality on-the-ground linkages between the two must be established, both for more meaningful theory-building and for policy design. Not only is the state in Africa here to stay (as elsewhere) but it will continue to play a leading and dominant role in defining, supervising and directing regional integration. As shown in the massive body of literature, non- state and mixed-state actors are also here to stay. So it is a question of straddling the two and building bridges.

25 The challenge is to recognize the existence and contributions of other actors than states, to accommodate them, and to maximize their contributions. As formal and informal dimensions of integration are commonly intertwined, a fuller picture of regional integration can emerge only when the two sets of processes are accepted as overlapping. Needless to argue that the separation between state and non-state actors is artificial, worse still where the place of non- state actors is completely ignored, as happens in conventional approaches to regional integration.

26 The paper ends with an outline discussion on regional public goods as a case illustrating many of the arguments made in this paper and to which precious little attention has been paid in the literature.

27 An increasingly related subject is that of the cross-order economy and the ‘ghost trade’, that is, unrecorded unofficial trade which is so prominent across African borders. In order to incorporate the benefits therefrom regional economic communities such as ECOWAS and SADC have designed programmed activities and set up appropriate structures within their secretariats to deal with the subject. Within the context of regional integration in Africa the erstwhile Cross-Border Initiative, the Growth Triangle Project, and the West African Borders and Integration Initiative are experiences worthy of closer study.


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