African Integration: Facing up to Emerging Challenges

Research
Date period
20 December 2016

The notion of pan-African integration predates independence movements and the creation of nation states on the continent. The issue of regional integration continues to be a prominent one in Africa, where it is estimated that trade intensity stands at around 12 percent. Africa’s own agenda aims to boost intra-regional trade from this low level to 25 percent or more by 2022. This paper examines the key elements bearing upon regional integration in Africa. It argues that integration should be conceived as a a means to respond to the development aspirations of societies across the continent starting with concerns around poverty alleviation, food security, and access to essential services. The paper presents the key motivations for deepened integration in Africa, provides a comprehensive overview of experiences to date at the continental level, and on the back of this analysis advances forward-looking options. It has been designed as the first of an ICTSD research series dedicated to exploring carefully crafted regional integration processes that can act as vectors for inclusive and sustainable development.