Why so much pessimism about economic integration in Africa? The case of the Southern African development community

11 Jun 2020

African economic integration initiatives have been judged by models and theoretical concepts developed outside Africa. Findings from such unrealistic and simplified models, rather than augment the continental initiatives, often create pessimism among stakeholders in the continent and outside. Hence, this paper emphasizes the fact that integration attempts should be evaluated in the context of their objectives, and the political, economic, and institutional setups in which they operate. To understand the economic integration dynamics in Africa and other developing regions, our sets of analysis should go beyond the common approaches which are based on optimum currency area (OCA) theory and experiences pertinent to north-north monetary integration. African countries need to adopt an alternative model that make the integration initiatives less costly and engender pessimism. Empowering citizens and stakeholders to make informed decisions may also reduce the existing pessimism about a Pan-African Economic Community initiative.