Region-building and Regional Integration in Africa

The following policy recommendations emerged from the Cape Town policy research seminar: Africa should rationalize the proliferation of regional economic communities on the continent. African governments should create dedicated ministries of economic integration equipped with the authority to implement trade agreements. Consensus decision-making should be replaced by majority decision making on sub-regional and continental bodies in order to promote effective development and implementation of plans in key areas of regional integration. Both SADC and COMESA should revisit and legally strengthen their trade agreements, imposing fines on member states that violate jointly agreed trade preferences through external commerce. Africa should pursue a developmental approach to market integration. Institutions must be established that are functional equivalents, rather than poor imitations, of their European counterparts. Rules to promote the harmonization of domestic economic policies also need to be established in the critical area of monetary union. Governments and regional bodies in Africa should strengthen their consultation mechanisms to give domestic interest groups such as civil society and the private sector a greater voice in, and enhance the transparency of, region-building efforts on the continent.