Challenges and Prospects of Regional Integration in Africa: A Case Study of East African Community
Ngari, David N.
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The overall objective of the study was to examine the challenges and prospects that play in the regional integration in Africa. In order to achieve this feet, the study examined literature on other Regional Integration Arrangements (RIA) of the world and especially on European Un-ion (EU), the Association of Southeast East Asia Nations (ASEAN), the North America Free Trade Area (NAFTA), among others. The study used the East African Community (EAC) as the case study of RIA in Africa. This was considered because EAC has transformed itself from a loose cooperation framework to a fast emerging, strong and dynamic economic block. The study utilized both the primary and secondary data sources including interviews and mate-rial published in various forms. The study running arguments were that the dynamics of tradi-tional challenges and prospects to regional integration organizations in Africa have a paradigm shift to the integration process, secondly the regional integration in Africa have challenges and prospects to realizing the African dream of economic integration and thirdly the challenges and prospects facing EAC regional integration are similar to those that face regional integration in Africa. The study found a response rate of 83.3% for quantitative data which was considered adequate for further data analysis to complement the qualitative data. Further the study noted that the participants had a lot of experience and proper understanding of the field, based on their dura-tion of stay in their respective ministries or within the EAC as staff. The study findings identified several concepts that have remained challenges to regional inte-gration in Africa. The study argues that their consideration could create a paradigm shift to providing strong prospects for regional integration in Africa. Such concepts were harnessing the positive media agenda for public opinion, realizing that donor dependency hinders devel-opment, accountable and good political leadership is a player in attracting FDI for economic development, multiplicity of membership creates a negative force to RIAs forward impetus while economic diversification especially from agricultural sector would be key to capitalizing on economic strengths and capacities of the states. The study findings contribute to knowledge by determining challenges and prospects that if addressed appropriately could lead to effectiveness of regional integrations in Africa. These are agenda setting or public opinion through media, foreign aid dependency, democratic political leadership, and economic diversification. Further the study findings and recommendations could contribute to improve national foreign policy with respect to region integrations especially on the aspect of rationalizing membership to multiplicity of RIAs. The study findings have also enabled to prove the three main study ar-guments. These are underpinned on the aspect of realizing that the challenges and prospects of regional integration are becoming more practical and tangible to the people. In this view the study argues that, the globalization dynamics of the world today are playing a key role hence the African nations have no alternative but to take the opportunity.
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