German Ministry of Education and Research supports ZEI´s Africa-Engagement
During the last years, ZEI´s research and consultancy work in the field of comparative regional integration has found international recognition. It is now entering a new stage. The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the long-term research cooperation project between the ZEI and the West Africa Institute (WAI) in Praia, Cape Verde with an amount of more than 1.4 Million Euros. From 2012-2016 both institutes, which began their cooperation in 2008, will continue to work on problems of “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe”. During a visit at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on 19 June 2012, the directors of ZEI and WAI, Prof. Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt and Prof. Dr. John Igue presented the objectives, structure and methodological approach of the cooperation project to high-ranking civil servants. In the context of the WAI-ZEI cooperation, renowned scholars from Europe and from West Africa will regularly come together to analyze obstacles to sustainable regional integration in a comparative way. The project is particularly focusing on policy formulation processes, obstacles to economic integration and trade issues as well as on question of institutional capacity building for the purpose of strengthening the regional integration process in West Africa.
The WAI-ZEI cooperation brings together different research communities as well as different scientific cultures that have hitherto been unconnected. Through this innovative networking effort, ZEI helps to strengthen the institutional basis of WAI and to increase its reputation as the first ever research institute, dealing exclusively with matters of regional integration in West Africa. WAI is promoted by UNESCO, the West African regional communities WAEMU and ECOWAS, ECOBANK and by the Cape Verdean government. The institute is based in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, which is one of the 15 Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Like ZEI in Europe, WAI tries to link academic expertise with political decision-making and thereby support knowledge-based regional initiatives in a region prone to conflict.
In the further course of the visit of the WAI delegation at ZEI in Bonn, the next tasks for the years 2012 and 2013 were intensively discussed. From 1-3 October 2012, the first of eight meetings of researchers will take place in Praia. There, scholars will present their findings on different topics and collectively discuss different approaches. Following this meeting, further joint project publications will be edited before the end of 2012.
ZEI is the most important non-African partner of WAI. ZEI director Prof. Kühnhardt is the only non-African member of the WAI Scientific Council.