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Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa/ Intégration régionale durable en Afrique de l´Ouest/ Integração regional sustentavel na África Ocidental. ZEI Discussion Paper C 208, 2011

Tolentino, Corsino and vogl, Matthias and Kühnhardt, Ludger and Traoré, Djénéba and Igue, John and Rommel, Claudia and Seddoh, Francisco Komlavi (2011) Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa/ Intégration régionale durable en Afrique de l´Ouest/ Integração regional sustentavel na África Ocidental. ZEI Discussion Paper C 208, 2011. [Working Paper]

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    Abstract

    Since the end of the Cold War, the world has observed a change in terms of political entities. Regional integration processes and regional institutions have been reinforced all around the globe with a strong concentration of this occurring in Africa. In this context, the European integration process is for better or for worse, a source of inspiration. Nevertheless, regional integration and cooperation outside of Europe is not yet supported by sufficient and sound analysis, targeted capacity development and by the dissemination of knowledge and information about the phenomenon to the wider public. It is due to these three principal shortcomings, that the West Africa Institute (WAI) in Praia was launched. The WAI is a one-of-a-kind initiative to establish the first ever research institution dealing in particular with issues of regional integration in West Africa. It was started in 2008 by the five promoters, ECOWAS, WAEMU, ECOBANK, UNESCO and the Government of Cape Verde and is based in Praia, Cape Verde. Since then, the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) and the West Africa Institute (WAI) have developed an ever closer partnership. On the basis of its academic and analytical work on European integration and of its experience in setting up structures for sustainable research and education, ZEI supports WAI on its way to becoming a center of knowledge and expertise on regional integration in West Africa in the framework of a joint cooperation project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Within this framework, the thematic outline of this Discussion Paper deals with the three most pressing questions of the West African integration process which double as the focus of the cooperation between ZEI and WAI. These three questions are: 1. How can conditions for regional trade be improved and can regional trade be enhanced? 2. How can different security challenges be dealt with in the region and how can human security best be provided in West Africa? 3. How can human capacities be trained in order to foster the integration process and how can citizens be informed about matters of regional integration? The topics of economics, security and education/outreach were chosen firstly because of their topicality on the political agenda, secondly because of their obvious interconnectedness and thirdly because of the fact that regional approaches can help to find practical solutions in those three fields. The Discussion Paper brings together researchers affiliated with WAI and ZEI. The structure of the paper and its articles reflect an interdisciplinary approach based on the Africa-Europe partnership. Specifically, the respective contributions focus on the following: In his introductory article, ZEI Director Ludger Kühnhardt analyzes some basic obstacles for sustainable regional integration and draws the conclusion that there is a global demand for more quality research and study opportunities in the field of regional integration, which he calls a "growth industry". He shows that this is especially true for West Africa and that the WAI-ZEI cooperation is a first step in this direction. WAI´s past project coordinator and current researcher Corsino Tolentino writes a broad introduction to regional integration as a worldwide phenomenon. He gives an overview of different attempts to create regional groupings on all continents, and suggests that the knowledge deficit is the main obstacle to regional integration in Africa. Djénéba Traoré, who is a board member of WAI, describes in her article that education is a crucial precondition for any development. However, she states that it is not sufficient to act in only the field of education. She claims that it is equally important to execute research on how knowledge can be best built, transferred and distributed. Using the Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa (ERNWACA) as an example, she shows that working at the regional level can have a lot of positive effects in this field. After concentrating on the need for research and education on regional integration, the paper turns toward economic concerns. Here John Igue, also a board member of WAI and former Minister of Industry and Small and Medium Size Enterprises of Benin gives a complete overview about the efforts for regional economic integration in West Africa. He provides a critical assessment of the current situation and states that some questions on the multi-level nature of integration, on the special constellations of interests and on financial responsibilities have to be clarified before real integration success can be achieved. ZEI fellow Claudia Rommel adds to this a more specialized perspective on issues of intra-regional trade within West Africa. She shows how important it is to increase the effort of removing various trade barriers and that so far, facilitating commercial relations through reducing tariffs has not proven effective. She argues that ECOWAS should work on non-tariff barriers and focus in particular on improving the border controls and customs procedures in order to speed up the transportation of goods within the region. The last section of the paper deals with the relationship of human security and regional integration. WAI board member and former rector of the University of Lomé and former Minister of Education of Togo Francisco Komlavi Seddoh gives an empirical overview of challenges to human security in Africa. Using a broad interpretation of human security, he argues that areas like life expectancy, infant mortality, education or alphabetization are indicators of human security and that West Africa is far behind in these areas. Seddoh mentions that some progress can be seen but that this is not nearly enough. Therefore, he makes a plea for better implementation of regional approaches. In the last article, ZEI fellow Matthias Vogl presents the different definitions of human security and shows the abstractness and ambiguity of the concept. His analysis shows that the definitions are rather vague and cannot serve as a solid basis for evaluating West African security. Due to the fact that security is one of the biggest obstacles to development and that regional organizations can generate added-value in this sector, he claims that it is essential to develop a West African definition of human security that can be connected with regional monitoring tools to determine the necessity of action. On this basis adequate solutions can be developed. This WAI-ZEI Discussion Paper reveals that there are a lot of open questions that make profound research all the more necessary. On these grounds, the cooperation between WAI and ZEI will enter into a phase of stronger partnership in the near future. During this period, the issues that have been raised here will be analyzed with an aim toward making the process of regional integration in West Africa in general and the work of WAI in particular more sustainable.

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    Item Type: Working Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > development
    EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-ACP
    EU policies and themes > External relations > regionalism, international
    EU policies and themes > External relations > human rights & democracy initiatives
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series: UNSPECIFIED
    ["eprint_fieldname_eusries" not defined]: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > University of Bonn, Center for European Integration Studies > ZEI Discussion Papers
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: Multilingual
    Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2011 10:15
    Number of Pages: 244
    Last Modified: 14 Sep 2011 14:39
    URI: http://aei.pitt.edu/id/eprint/32331

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