New Research on African Regional Integration from the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project

| June 02, 2016

The adoption of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement on June 10, 2015, was a landmark event. The agreement promises to do for Africa’s economic freedom what earlier events did for its decolonization and political freedom. The impact of the agreement cannot be assessed in isolation of Africa’s quest for a greater role on the global trading scene.

In a new manuscript that chronicles the adoption of the TFTA, STG Project Director, Calestous Juma, and COMESA Director of Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs, Dr. Francis Mangeni, argue that Africa is pursuing regional trade as part of a broader strategy for long-term economic transformation. For this reason, African trade integration measures combine facilitation of free movement of goods and services, investment in infrastructure, and promotion of industrial development. Economic integration is therefore part of the long-term political vision to unleash the continent’s entrepreneurial potential through regional trade.

This manuscript is both historical and prospective. It outlines the path followed in reaching agreement and identifies the various obstacles faced. It will serve as a handbook for those pursuing the implementation of the Agreement or seeking to promote similar integration in other parts of Africa. By stressing the lessons learned throughout the negotiations, this manuscript will serve as a textbook for those involved in creating a new image of Africa that is guided by a common vision, pursued through experimentation and learning, and achieved through determined collective action.

Above all, the goal is to instill in the next generation the spirit of setting out a bold political vision, pursing it relentlessly with bold experiments, creating institutions through which new lessons are learned, and scaling those lessons to meet the aspirations of wider communities. A vast continent such as Africa offers great opportunities for learning through trial and error. The process of creating the grand trading areas has shown how much can be achieved where there is political will, autonomy of action, and protection from blame. The free trade area will create its own challenges, but at least Africans have gleaned from the process that a lot can be achieved where learning is the principal driver of cooperation.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Science, Technology, and Globalization
For Academic Citation: Gordon, Katherine. “New Research on African Regional Integration from the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project.” News, , June 2, 2016.

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