Governing regionalism in Africa: Themes and Debates

"Historically, regionalism has advanced only through contested processes where states learn to cede sovereignty over long periods of interactions across a wide range of domains, in particular the functional sphere of economic co-operation. Secondly, regionalism grows out of strong, not weak, states with equally long experience in harnessing the gains from sovereignty. Thirdly, the leadership of strong states (often hegemonic leaders) is frequently pertinent in setting the rules that jumpstart regionalism. It is the process of building multilateral institutions to enhance political, security, and economic interaction among states. How do these themes resonate in Africa, where the governance of regional institutions remains enigmatic? What has been the dominant African practice of reconciling the imperatives of statehood with subcontracting roles to regional institutions? How have debates about African regional institution-building changed over the years, and what are the lessons we could derive from historical experiences? This essay briefly considers these issues as it reflects on efforts to govern African regionalism."