An analysis of spatial development paradigm for enhancing regional integration within national and it’s supporting spatial systems in Africa
Okeke, Donald Chiuba
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The global aim of this research is to postulate a spatial development paradigm for regional integration in developing countries - more specifically, the research prospects to conceptualize form-based spatial planning theory for Africa. This was considered necessary on two grounds: first, the need for spatial regional integration as panacea for economic growth, and second the resilience of formal planning in the context of a neo-liberal paradigm shift in planning for economic growth. The research in essence strives to reconsider formal planning in an attempt to articulate an appropriate planning paradigm for the delivery of spatial regional integration within spatial systems in developing economies. In view of the foregoing the resilience of form-based planning paradigm informs the research. Hence the research sets out with the null hypothesis that form-based planning attributes are not significantly resilient in the perception of planning initiatives in the African context. The research methodology involved a relevant literature survey vis-à-vis theoretical and analytical frameworks as well as desktop case studies of selected country profiles and planning initiatives and then an empirical case study of integrated development planning (IDP) initiatives in South Africa. Following six sets of analysis, the research established compliance with a neo-liberal planning paradigm in Africa; however, it disproved the null hypothesis. The neo-liberal planning initiatives were found to be unable to deliver integrated development. Thus a change in development ideology to neo-mercantilism is recommended as a strategic move to redirect attention from private profitability to nation-building vis-à-vis spatial integration. Neo-mercantilism is therefore deployed as thinking instrument for a neo-mercantile planning paradigm postulated to deliver spatial regional integration in developing economies. The neo-mercantile planning paradigm which seeks spatio-physical bases of integration adopts integrated planning operationalized with spatial integration plans (SIPs) and thematic integration plans (TIPs) instruments. These instruments are designed to establish spatial integration networks. The networking of the spatial systems requires the grading of infrastructure and the classification of cities. While administrative criteria are used to determine the former, the latter is proposed to be conducted with a “Time-efficient” coefficient, an innovative unit with which “Time-efficient effect” of cities as centres of commerce can be measured. This coefficient contributes to the growth of regional development theories from a spatio-physical perspective. Furthermore, the research contributes a neo-mercantile spatial model for urban region development. The modality of applying the new paradigm in Africa is modelled to integrate the status quo given requisite visionary mind-set and abundant political will. The model adopts the sequence of securing a neo-mercantile planning paradigm, followed by the identification of priority problems, the articulation of a vision statement and then objectives set to achieve spatial regional integration. Present actions were assessed and new action cards proposed, based on priorities for action drawn from priority problems in Africa. The proposed action cards were regrouped into a typology of actions to aid implementation strategies. The strategies made provision for institutional requirements and implementation processes, manpower requirements, financial mechanisms, legal reforms and monitoring measures. The implementation process summarized with a calendar of the action plan for spatial regional integration in Africa.