Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy (The)

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Revisiting the legal framework for African economic and monetary integration: lessons from European economic depression

Ikechukwu Bernard Okafor


The desire for an African economic and monetary union as a strategy for repositioning the postcolonial continent for global competitiveness has been on for many decades. What initially started as a political movement for independence quickly transformed into an agenda for economic and monetary integration of the continent, drawing inspiration from the European Economic and Monetary Union. The implementation of this agenda has engaged the attention of state actors within the continent especially with the adoption of the various strategic plans of action and the treaty-frameworks for its realization. Notwithstanding the near utopian nature of this lofty dream (considering the herculean odds against its realization) a glimmer of hope was shown in the early 2000s after the transformation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU) with new promise that it is not going to be business as usual. The upward-looking economies of some of the major countries in the continent, deepening of democratic culture and other international economic reforms in the region at the time like the debt cancelations all leant support to this new hope. With the recent global economic recession the world economic outlook has substantially changed, necessitating global reforms at various levels of economic cooperation. The African continent however seems not to have seen the need for a holistic reappraisal of its internal mechanisms for realizing a viable economic and monetary union in the light of the present realities.

The thesis of this paper is that apart from other problems facing this up-hill task there are fundamental weaknesses in the legal framework for the regional integration agenda which requires urgent attention if the continent is to realize this dream. The effect of the present economic depression in Europe and the strain it has placed on the economic and monetary union presents a rare example for the African continent to seek a stronger, more transparent and effective legal framework for its economic integration in order not to deliver the continent to the world as an irredeemable liability in the near future.

AJOL African Journals Online