Puzzling Over the Pieces Regional Integration and the African Peer Review Mechanism

"Regional integration has long been recognised as an important vehicle for Africa’s development; currently, the African Union (AU) officially intends achieving a continent-wide common market by 2023 and a currency union by 2018. One of the goals of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the continent’s indigenous governance assessment system, is to promote regional integration. The enquiries it has made into the integration attempts and experiences of the 19 countries that have undergone review so far provide valuable new insights.A range of dynamics has undermined Africa’s efforts at regional integration. Politically, African countries have shown little desire to relinquish their sovereignty, and little supranational authority exists to ensure that countries remain committed to integration. Moreover, many hold multiple memberships of various regional communities, which commits them to sometimes conflicting goals, particularly as the degree of integration becomes deeper – it is, for example, not viable for a country to belong to two customs unions. Many African countries lack the administrative capacity to drive an integration agenda. Poor infrastructure may make political commitments or actions relatively meaningless in terms of actual benefits. Security concerns also divert the attention of regional bodies, and increase the reluctance of come countries to risk exposure to the problems of others."