How to Rebuild the Dynamic for Regional Integration in Africa: Integration or… Disintegration?

Program of the Fourth International Conference on Africa

Although it is more or less being implemented in one form or the other, the process of integration in Africa arouses real questionings today:
On one side, the panafricanist ideal and rhetoric of the past wanting to overcome “balkanization” seems to be dying down on a large part of the continent: less present in national political debates, referring to it seems to resonate as a mere slogan in the ears of a youth already disenchanted with unfilled promises.

On the other side, certain voices are strongly claiming the urgency of an integration which would be less institutional and more efficient, indispensable in their view, as the national level shows its incapacity to meet the huge challenges facing an Africa in transition.  Their point of view can be summed up as this: integration or … disintegration!

Faced with such a contrast of situations and opinions, the AFRICA INITIATIVE GROUP, as it continues its on-going analysis of the continent’s key issues, has decided to take a stance on these crucial questions and place them at the center of its fourth international conference.

This implies an assessment of existing opportunities in the current integration process, current successful areas of performance and obstacles. We will compare different experiences of integration at the international level, highlighting relevant objectives and methods which could likely ignite a fresh and realistic regional momentum.

The Africa Initiative Group’s approach stems from the method used by Aspen: Independence, in-depth and open interaction, free of any taboo. From this non-complacent analysis, the conference will try to come out with constructive and realistic   recommendations, which can guide current and future decision makers in their respective areas of responsibility, be it in the public or the private sector. Following up on these recommendations will also be part of AFRICA INIITIATIVE GROUP’s “action tank” objective.

Discussions will take place over two days. Day one: Are there new reasons to accelerate the regional integration process? Which ones? Which learnings could serve to plan and build new strategies? Day two: What economic, social, political and institutional measures are needed to create a new momentum?

In order to remain as concrete as possible, the second day will focus more particularly on Central and West Africa. This focus will be enriched by testimonials and experiences from other zones and allow discussions to extrapolate to other African countries.

A synthesis of the discussions and presentation of the recommendations will close the conference on the morning of the third day.
Participants will be given background documents beforehand including several articles and analysis related to the conference theme as well as examples of good practices from different countries to enrich the discussions. 

The analysis of these major issues will unfold during the following sessions :

(Security, defence, economic diversification, youth unemployment, climatic change, migrations…: existing model?)

How to rebuild the credibility of African integration devices?

(Delays, slowness and blockages, African and world comparative degrees, +/- Nepad, suitability and relevancy of the assemblies, border countries, principle of subsidiarity: What new avenues?)

(Common policies, private initiatives, free movement of goods and people, sectors, investments, currencies, financing …)

(Regional policies for tranfers/migrations, relocations, engaged civil society, youth, international accompaniment …)