Regional Integration for Africa: Could Stronger Public Support Turn ' Rhetoric into Reality'?
"Regional integration has been a development strategy for Africa for decades. The African Economic Community’s founding treaty in 1991 provided a framework targeting full political and economic integration by 2019. Many African countries have signed on to foster political and economic cooperation. The promotion of social and cultural development, economic integration and trade, and free movement of persons and goods are fundamental principles for continental and regional organisations, including the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and regional economic communities (RECs), with the ultimate goal of creating a unified continental market. Despite this emphasis, Africa’s record on regional integration has not been impressive. Fragmented regulations, high trade tariffs, complicated customs procedures, and disjointed transport and energy infrastructure continue to prevent the continent from turning “rhetoric into reality” in a powerful pan-African market."