Challenges to political and econimic intergration in Africa : A socio-Legal perspective
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This study is concerned with integration efforts on the African continent. This study sets out to investigate the politico-legal and economic impediments to regional and continental integration efforts in Africa. The documents, processes, and organs of the African Union, as the main continental organisation, are the focal point of this study. In order to achieve this, the study primarily adopted a qualitative approach since the literature involved in this work could not be reduced to a quantitative concept. The study ensured that the premises and the conclusions in this work conform to the principles of reliability and validity and in addition the elimination of bias in this was curtailed by validation and triangulation. This was achieved by the fact that the arguments in this work were not only based on qualitative arguments but, where possible, quantitative data was brought in to validate/ triangulate the qualitative arguments. Evidently, the study would have been incomplete if it did not discuss and evaluate the many regional economic communities that have been established to further the objectives of the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community. One of the major premises that this study discovers is that there is a direct and demonstrable relationship between democracy and economic progress; genuine and sustainable development has to be fostered primarily by securing peace and stability on the African continent. Some of the other key findings of the study include that; a) the ultimate goal of the African Union is full political and economic integration leading to the United States of Africa; b) overlapping memberships to a custom unions are highly detrimental to the state since it has to subscribe resources and political will to two or more different arrangements. c) overlapping memberships cause confusion, inertia and most importantly legal uncertainty thereby stifling trade liberalisation efforts; d) many African states still guard their sovereignty closely and that many perceive that yielding their sovereignty to a continental body is tantamount to losing their independence; e) the African Union infrastructure still lacks supra-national and national institutions that are capable of implementing its values; f) the African Union infrastructure does not contain an institutionalised mechanism for the promotion and management of Union affairs at national level; g) the NEPAD initiatives, the APRM process and the functions of the Peace and Security Council play a positive role in African politico-legal and economic development. It has however been shown that these mechanisms are more reactive than preventative and as such intervene too late in the internal affairs of member states; h) armed conflicts cause a reduction in the per-capita Gross Domestic Product growth rate of a nation experiencing a civil war/ conflicts. i) the African Union has regressed from the original timelines of the African Economic Community. The highest regression being Phase 2 which involves the most critical element of strengthening of African regional integration arrangements and the harmonisation of policies concerned. A thirteen (13) year postponement is noted in this regard. j) Africa's poor intra-trade performance is also attributed to the limited progress among African countries in fostering structural transformation. This structural transformation relates to the building of roads, bridges, railway lines and power grids; In order for the African continent to re-position itself in an attempt to harness the benefits of regional integration, some of the recommendations that the study makes are that; a) the African Union grant supra-national status to institutions of the Union for the equitable and speedy attainment of integration; b) the Union and member states should as soon as possible create mechanisms with decision making powers to manage Union affairs at regional and national level; c) the operationalization of the Pan African Parliament should be pursued with the utmost determination to bring the Parliament to full functionality as a Continental legislative body; d) the operationalization of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights be completed as soon as possible in order to allow the body to function as a fully-fledged continental judiciary. This will ensure that the development of integration jurisprudence from an international law perspective is not delayed. The Court will also pursue the enforcement of Human rights norms and practices; e) the Union should further lead the continent in the following sectors with clear and predictable deliverables; i) the establishment and upgrading of regional land, air, and other means of transportation and communication; ii) the creation of a cross-border power and energy generation and distribution network; iii) the establishment, advancement, and diversification of regional financial and commodity markets; iv) the establishment of a regional higher education system by facilitating wider access through specialization in regional integration; The study further acknowledges that these recommendations are not conclusive since the study of regional integration is still at its infancy and many other ideas on how to strengthen African regional integration still await discovery.
- Law