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Revisiting regional integration in Africa: towards a pan-African developmental regional integration

Vusi Gumede


So much has been said and written about regional integration in Africa. And there have been many efforts and initiatives towards regionally integrating Africa. While acknowledging all the valuable attempts made towards achieving the regional integration agenda, this article problematises the efforts undertaken so far and points to what have been the missing links in the successful pursuit of regional integration in Africa. Indeed, there have been different schools of thoughts (originally the Casablanca, Brazzaville and Monrovia ‘perspectives’). Hence the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) wrestled with regional integration from these different perspectives. The African Union (AU) has also had to confront more directly which approach is ideal for ‘one Africa’: one big government or a geographically united continent of Africa versus the co-existence of the diverse peoples of Africa. The article makes a case for a pan-African developmental regional integration as a political agenda grounded in African nationalism, not an economistic affair aimed at increasing market access and associated factors. The pan-African developmental regional integration agenda has to do with regional integration for the political unification of Africa. In the main, people-to-people relations should be prioritised. The article also makes the point that the various imperialisms have to be confronted if true regional integration is to become a reality. Essentially, building infrastructure, improving capacity and ensuring market access are economistic issues that do not deal with the fundamental challenges faced by the African continent, although these factors can, to some extent, assist in dealing with unemployment and poverty. It is in this context that a pan-African developmental regional integration agenda is advanced.