Promoting Socio-Economic Development through Regional Integration - The Politics of Regional Economic Communities in Africa
Regional integration has gained momentum since the 1980s and throughout the world. The new regionalism process prevailing since differs from the old one by its multidimensionality covering economic, political, social, and cultural issues within a regional setting. While the old regionalism focused on market protection using a range of tariff and non tariff barriers, the New Regionalism is reinforced by the globalisation effects and strives for efficiency in production, and market access. Using the New Regionalisms Approach, the aim of this thesis is to appreciate the actual levels of regional integration in Africa and explore plausible ways of deepening the integration process with the view that regional integration can promote socio-economic development, provided a pro-development approach is privileged in the conception and implementation of the regional integration process. Focusing on SADC as a representative regional economic community, a qualitative content analysis is used for data collection while policy analysis is carried out using the Institutional Analysis and Development framework. The results of this study reveal discrepancies between policy formulation and policy implementation when it comes to enhancing the pro-developmental aspects in the unfolding regional integration process. In spite that shortcomings in past experiences triggered dramatic structural reforms ranging from the reorganisation of the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union, the creation of NEPAD, to structural reforms within regional economic communities with the example of the 2001 restructuring of SADC, empirical evidence shows that little change has occurred at the operational level. Moreover, even policy formulation at the collective-action level still lacks concrete strategies and plans for harmonisation and implementation of regional initiatives. Some of the strategies for deepening the regional integration process would include prioritising regional commitments to external ones and improving policy formulation as well as establishing linkages between different regional policies and strategies.
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