In the heyday of African nationalism, the continent’s founding fathers plotted their vision of pan-African unity. The twin paths of closer political and economic integration appeared to them as the only means to achieve dignity prosperity and security. Today, closer integration between African states is once again a priority for the African Union and the regional institutions of southern, East and West Africa.
This panoramic survey investigates half a century of efforts to advance Africa’s integration, often hamstrung by a surfeit of competing ambitions and lack of political will. In recent decades, significant economic growth in many countries has been characterised by starkly rising inequality and entrenched poverty. The authors argue, plainly and without jargon, that the process of cooperation between states needs new direction.
The overriding purpose of integration must be to reduce poverty. Macro-economic targets are important, but for too long policymakers have placed disproportionate emphasis o the creation of larger trading blocs. Priority for regional public goods, whether publicly or privately funded, is a more effective strategy. From pan-African infrastructure to common standards in law and politics, they are a proven means to foster growth – and to distribute its benefits more widely.