IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Rethinking the (European) Foundations of Sub-Saharan African Regional Economic Integration: A Political Economy Essay


  • Peter Draper

    (South African Institute of International Affairs)


Support for regional economic integration in Africa runs high amongst the continent’s international development partners and African elites. However, its expression in European forms of economic integration is not appropriate to regional capacities and in some cases may do more harm than good. This lacuna is exacerbated by technical and theoretical analyses rooted either in economics or international relations literatures. This paper sets out to reconceptualise the foundations of African economic integration through reviewing key debates within each literature and comparing the results across disciplinary boundaries. Overall, I conclude that a much more limited approach is required, one that prioritises trade facilitation and regulatory cooperation in areas related primarily to the conduct of business; underpinned by a security regime emphasising the good governance agenda at the domestic level. Care should be taken to design the ensuing schemes in such a way as to avoid contributing to major implementation and capacity challenges in establishing viable and legitimate states. In doing so, the presence of regional leaders with relatively deep pockets– South Africa in the Southern African case – points to the imperative of building such limited regional economic arrangements around key states. Le soutien à l’intégration économique régionale en Afrique est fort au sein des partenaires au développement du continent et des élites africaines. Cependant, une intégration régionale à l’Européenne ne correspond pas aux capacités régionales, et dans certains cas, pourrait faire plus de mal que de bien. Cette lacune est exacerbée par les analyses techniques et théoriques basées sur les littératures de l’économie et des relations internationales. Cet article vise à reconceptualiser les fondations de l’intégration économique africaine en passant en revue les principaux débats au sein de chaque littérature, et en comparant les résultats de manière pluridisciplinaire. Globalement, nous concluons qu’une approche bien plus limitée est requise : mettre l’accent sur la facilitation du commerce et la coopération en matière de régulation dans des domaines relevant en premier lieu des affaires, dans le cadre d’un régime de sécurité qui renforce la bonne gouvernance au niveau national. Une attention particulière devrait être portée à la conception des programmes, de telle sorte qu’ils n’aggravent pas les problèmes de capacité et de mise en oeuvre qu’on rencontre dans l’édification d’Etats viables et légitimes. Ce faisant, la présence de leaders régionaux au poids économique important – l’Afrique du Sud dans le cas de l’Afrique australe – indique l’impératif d’une construction de ces accords économiques régionaux autour d’Etats stratégiques.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Draper, 2010. "Rethinking the (European) Foundations of Sub-Saharan African Regional Economic Integration: A Political Economy Essay," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 293, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:293-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew Berg & Yanliang Miao, 2010. "The Real Exchange Rate and Growth Revisited; The Washington Consensus Strikes Back?," IMF Working Papers 10/58, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Dani Rodrik, 2008. "The Real Exchange Rate and Economic Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(2 (Fall)), pages 365-439.
    3. Ronald McKinnon & Gunther Schnabl, 2009. "The Case for Stabilizing China's Exchange Rate: Setting the Stage for Fiscal Expansion," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 17(1), pages 1-32.
    4. Angus Deaton & Alan Heston, 2010. "Understanding PPPs and PPP-Based National Accounts," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 1-35, October.
    5. Jinzhao Chen, 2009. "Beyond Cheap Talks: Assessing the Undervaluation of the Chinese Currency Between 1994 and 2007," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 119, pages 47-82.
    6. Arellano, M, 1987. "Computing Robust Standard Errors for Within-Groups Estimators," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(4), pages 431-434, November.
    7. Ajay Chhibber & Gaurav Nayyar, 2008. "Pro-poor growth: explaining the cross-country variation in the growth elasticity of poverty," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(2), pages 160-176, October.
    8. William R. Cline & John Williamson, 2010. "Notes on Equilibrium Exchange Rates: January 2010," Policy Briefs PB10-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    9. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
    10. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1982. "Towards an Explanation of National Price Levels," NBER Working Papers 1034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Andreas (Andy) Jobst & Harry X. Wu, 2008. "Measuring China’s Economic Performance," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 9(2), pages 13-44, April.
    12. David M. Drukker, 2003. "Testing for serial correlation in linear panel-data models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(2), pages 168-177, June.
    13. Homi Kharas, 2010. "The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 285, OECD Publishing.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Tony Addison & Finn Tarp, 2015. "Lessons for Japanese foreign aid from research on aid's impact," WIDER Working Paper Series 056, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Draper, Peter & Freytag, Andreas & Doyaili, Sarah Al, 2013. "Why should Sub-Saharan Africa care about the Doha Development Round?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 7, pages 1-26.
    3. Nora Dudwick & Radhika Srinivasan, 2013. "Creating Jobs in Africa's Fragile States : Are Value Chains an Answer?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15807.

    More about this item


    economic integration; integration; international trade associations; intégration; intégration économique; organisations du commerce international;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:293-en. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.