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2016: ARISA presents innovative approaches to regional integration research coordination in Africa, particularly regarding the issue of migration

 

The numerous and tragic deaths in the Mediterranean Sea are calling upon all African and European governments to find sustainable, political solutions to the migration situation. This may be decisive for the future of regional integration in both continents. The Republic of Cabo Verde is particularly interested in finding those joint solutions as the country had and has historically and projected high mobility rates.  With this statement, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde, José Maria Neves, addressed the participants of the 8th WAI-ZEI Study Groups Meeting, held from 18 – 19 April in Praia, Republic of Cabo Verde. Prime Minister Neves highlighted the importance of the good WAI-ZEI research cooperation. He also welcomed the formal establishment of the continental research network of an African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA), promising to also highlight this important initiative towards the new Cabo Verdean Government.

Against the backdrop of the current migration situation, the last meeting within the framework of the current WAI-ZEI project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe” was dedicated to the discussion of social, political, legal and economic aspects of migration within and across regions. Furthermore, building upon previous reflexions on the establishment of a pan-African network in African regional integration between regional integration researchers of both regions, the African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA) was formally launched on 19 April 2016. Members of ARISA include academics of all African regional economic communities (REC) as well as a high-ranking African Union official and the directors of WAI and ZEI.  The innovative ARISA network strives to bridge knowledge and research gaps in the field of regional integration in Africa by connecting African Regional integration researchers, practitioners and political stakeholders.

Participants of the 8th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting in the Foreign Ministry of Cabo Verde

In his opening address to workshop participants José Brito, former Minister of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Cabo Verde and Chairman of the WAI Board, thanked WAI and ZEI for their truthful bi-regional cooperation within the last years and welcomed the future cooperation of both partners in order to consolidate ARISA. Director of ZEI, Director of ZEI, Prof. Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt added that WAI and ZEI could look back proudly on their cooperation based on mutual respect which was initiated almost a decade ago. ZEI would be grateful for accompanying WAI’s development throughout the cooperation which had been able to increase the collaboration between academics of both continents significantly.  He congratulated WAI on the successfully signed commitment with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which will guarantee the effectiveness of this first research institute in Africa, dedicated to the region’s integration, even better over the period of the next ten years. With the foreseen start of the Master of African Regional Integration (MARI) in cooperation with the University of Cabo Verde (Uni-CV), ZEI has left another building block and guarantee for the sustainable future of the West Africa Institute (WAI).

Prof. Dr. Djénéba Traoré, the General Director of WAI expressed her sincere acknowledgements to the Government of the Republic of Cabo Verde and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for their financial and technical support during the years of the WAI-ZEI project. She highlighted the historical development of the WAI-ZEI cooperation on regional integration and emphasised the relevant collaborative work between researchers from Africa and Europe that has given birth to ARISA as an innovative approach in terms of coordination of research on regional integration in Africa with the aim to produce innovative and academically-grounded policy advice, addressing the critical challenges that regional integration processes in Africa and Europe face. The cooperation between WAI and ZEI is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as a beacon project within the years 2012 to 2016.

The first ARISA research results were focused on the issue of migration and will be published within a special edition of the African Union’s Journal “African Regional Integration and Development Review” later this year. The first Annual Symposium will take place from 21 to 22 November 2016 in Nairobi (Kenya), in cooperation with the Centre for Regional Integration (CEFRI) and the Institute for Regional Integration & Development (IRID@CUEA).

Further information on ARISA can be found here and in WAI-ZEI Paper No.24: Ludger Kühnhardt and Djénéba Traoré (eds.): Brainstorming for a Pan-African Network in Regional Integration Studies, Bonn/Praia, 2015, as well as on the websites of WAI and ZEI: www.zei.uni-bonn.de;www.westafricainstitute.org

2015:African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA) Constitutes Inaugural Assembly


At the invitation of the West Africa Institute (WAI) and the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI), African researchers met in Bonn from 10-11 November 2015 to facilitate the establishment of the “African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA)” in order to foster a critical understanding of the Member States, historical development, institutions, processes, policies, programs, issues, and challenges of African regional integration. The Association will develop a community of academics and practitioners in order to raise the knowledge of and build capacity in African regional integration. It will organize activities with a specific focus on regional integration studies, publish research results and contribute to overcoming obstacles to sustainable and people-centered regional integration processes with practical policy implications.

Intensive discussions during the meeting focused on the first preliminary Strategic Plan, a Statute and a Roadmap of ARISA. Furthermore, the inaugural assembly of ARISA was constituted. The Inaugural Assembly unanimously elected Prof. Dr. Gervasio Semedo, University of Tours, as the first Chairman of the African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA). Being a member of the African diaspora, Prof. Semedo expressed his great confidence in the establishment of ARISA in order to support the process of regional integration in Africa by explaining the current trends and proposing solutions to correct existing shortcomings. The representative of the African Union Commission, Dr. René N’Guettia Kouassi, Director of Economic Affairs, participated in the inaugural meeting of ARISA. He strongly supported this initiative due to the fact that ARISA offers an additional opportunity to fast-track the implementation of Africa’s integration agenda. Therefore, the African Union Commission will play an important role in order to contribute to the achievement of ARISA’s objective.

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The meeting took place within the bi-regional research and consulting project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe” financed by German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) from 2012 until 2016 which was identified as a beacon project in the thematic areas of Education and Transformation within the framework of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy. Researchers will meet again in Praia, Cabo Verde, from 18 to 19 April 2016 to formally launch ARISA as an African-owned and Africa-based, non-governmental organization without profit-making purpose. The April meeting will also include first thematic inputs on the topic of migration as a human factor.

Further information on ARISA can be found in Ludger Kühnhardt and Djénéba Traoré (eds.): Brainstorming for a Pan-African Network in Regional Integration Studies, WAI-ZEI Paper No.24, Bonn/Praia, 2015 and on the WAI Website.

2015: WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting - Connecting African Regional Integration Researchers during the 6th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting on 25-26 March 2015 in Praia, Cabo Verde

Regional integration, emerging on every continent around the world, is one of the most remarkable developments since the breakdown of the bipolar world order. Africa in particular has triggered the creation of a number of regional groupings, defined as Regional Economic Communities (RECs), in all parts of the continent, forming building blocks under the umbrella of the African Union (AU). The policies of bodies like the AU or the RECs are increasingly influencing the every-day-life of the African citizen and have become an important feature of politics on the African continent.

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WAI-Fellow, Prof. Dr. Gervasio Semedo, from the University of Tours in France during his presentation.

In parallel to the growing economic and political importance of the AU and the RECs, academic interest in analyzing these phenomena has increased as well. Previous discussions within the framework of the bi-regional research and consulting project “Comparative Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe”, a cooperation between ZEI and the West Africa Institute (WAI) in Praia, Cabo Verde, have revealed a strong interest among scholars to better connect the African research community in this field. This is particularly important as - despite growing scholarly engagement in this area - there is a general lack of   formalized structures to connect academics across the continent and to support their efforts to a analyze the driving forces and obstacles of regional integration in different policy sectors. Furthermore, Africa rarely has any specialized studies networks in the field of social sciences and humanities.

Against this background WAI and ZEI have invited academic representatives from all RECs to Praia in order to initiate a debate on how this existing gap could be bridged. Bringing together engaged researchers and practitioners from different fields of study for an inte7nsive brainstorming, the meeting will analyze and discuss how regional integration research across the continent could be linked in a more formal and structured way.

The WAI-ZEI project is financed by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) from 2012 until 2016 and has been identified as a beacon project in the thematic areas of Education and Transformation in the framework of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy . Papers and others publications published during the project can be found here. Further aspects of the project are the establishment of a regional integration library in Praia and the elaboration of a specific Master Program in African Regional Integration in cooperation with the University of Cape Verde (UNI CV). The next WAI- ZEI workshop will take place in October 2015 in Bonn, Germany.

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The participants of the 6th WAI-ZEI Studiy Group Meeting in Praia.

2014: Migration and Civil Society as development drivers within a regional context – 5th Study Group Meeting of the WAI-ZEI Research Cooperation

“The Ebola Crisis clearly reflects the governance deficits on the African continent and makes integrated answers on a regional level more necessary than ever before. Since the first outbreak of Ebola almost thirty years ago, no consequences and lessons have been drawn”. It was with these unequivocal words that the Chairman of the WAI-Board and former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde, Jose Brito, welcomed the participants of the 5th Study Group Meeting in the framework of the WAI-ZEI Research Cooperation  which took place from 8th until 9th September, 2014 in the Ministry of External Relations (MIREX) of Cabo Verde. The current epidemic outbreak led to a reduced number of participants at the meeting due to border closures by the Government of Cabo Verde. In light of this alarming crisis, the potentials and problems in the field of migration and civil society engagement, which are inherently connected to the current Ebola crisis, were discussed by prestigious scholars and practitioners from both Europe and West Africa. For the first time in the WAI-ZEI Project, some participants held their presentation via video link. This further proves the growing importance of modern communication technology in the area of education and research in West Africa, which can be utilized to overcome existing infrastructural deficits. This topic will be discussed in detail within a further workshop in the framework of the WAI-CEDIR Fellowship. Financed by the German BMBF, the workshop will scrutinize the connection between higher education and regional integration and is  scheduled at the end of September in Praia.

Jose Brito, the Chairman of the WAI Board is interviewed by different media representatives from Cabo Verde.

Jose Brito, the Chairman of the WAI Board is interviewed by different media representatives from Cabo Verde.

 

In her introductory speech, the General Director of WAI, Prof. Djénéba Traoré, indicated to the results of the WAI-ZEI Research Cooperation and also presented the most recent publications of WAI.

Subsequently, the presentations in the economic research area paid particular attention to effects of intra-regional migration on the regional labour market of West Africa. In response to data deficits, the recommendation to introduce a Migration Information System was raised. Furthermore, the experts stressed the importance of surmounting language barriers through targeted and timely education measures. What is more, border management in West Africa ought not to be perceived by responsible bodies as a means of control, but rather as security services for citizens in the framework of the free movement of people within the ECOWAS Zone. However, this would require a deep and lasting change in awareness.

In the framework of further study sessions, the potential and impact of international remittances by migrants and members of the Diaspora for their countries of origin was assessed. Remittances represent cross-border financial support via person-to-person payments from the Diaspora to assist their families in the countries of origin. In order to better apply and make use of the economic potential of remittances as a source of poverty reduction and future investment stimulus, the African Union (AU) recently established the African Institute for Remittances (AIR). Its experiences were shared in the context of the conference. Additionally, Prof. Matthias Lücke from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy highlighted the importance of a targeted facilitation of legal migration and the adjustment of international education, pension and health system standards in order to prevent  „Brain Drain“ and illegal migration. To allow for the possible return of migrants to their countries of origin (circular migration), domestic conditions have to be altered and improved as well.

In the context of the first research area, which focuses on political aspects of regional policy formulation, Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt presented a historical review of the last hundred years following the beginning World War I, to point to the lessons learned from this seminal catastrophe and analyze its effect on the development of regional awareness. Simultaneously, he emphasized that these lessons are constantly put to the test via pressing global conflicts. Consequently, a convincing and active promotion of the regional idea under the umbrella of democratic values remains essential. The intrinsic link between the importance and contribution of civil society and cultural factors became evident during further presentations. Nana Afadzinu of the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in Ghana underlined that civil society actors, ranging from student organizations to unions, have always been engines of regional integration in West Africa. This holds also true for the engagement of NGOs and women’s organizations in the field of peace and security. However, she also critically assessed that the actual political influence of these transnational actors remains limited and their potential unused due to obstacles in capacity-related and organizational shortcomings. Prof. Stefan Fröhlich from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg advocated in his presentation that the role of civil society in Europe only gained importance after the epochal events of 1989/90. The critical, if not even negative, attitude vis-à-vis the European integration process until the present day can also be referred back to the widely perceived distance between EU institutions and the European people. This was reflected, according to Prof. Fröhlich, in the refusal to accept the European Constitution in 2005. In light of these problems, he further highlights the distinct learning potential for Europe that radiates from the bottom-up development of civil societal engagement in West Africa since the 90s.

Additionally, Prof. Abderrahmane Ngaidé from the Université Cheick Anta Diop in Dakar assessed the importance of cultural diversity for regional integration in West Africa. From his perspective, the historical experiences of the region with its historical kingdoms and diverse governance-styles existing in harmony or at least compatibly, are proof of the fact that the perceived ethnic fault lines of today do not represent an insurmountable hurdle for regional integration. Instead as in the past, cultural diversity ought to be used positively in order to achieve the proclaimed goal of an “ECOWAS of the People”.

Finally, Prof. Manuel Guilherme Junior in his position as Director of the Centre of Studies on Regional Integration and SADC Law in Maputo, Mozambique, presented a supplementary comparative perspective. In his presentation about the challenges for integration in Southern Africa, he suggested that while the ECOWAS region recently introduced a Customs Union, this step in integration is missing within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) due to the multiple memberships of its constituent members. Against this background, the creation of a so-called Tripartite Free Trade Agreement is about to be implemented which not only includes SADC, but furthermore the members of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Eastern African Community (EAC).

The workshop was part of the research- and consultation project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe”, a cooperation between WAI and ZEI. The cooperative research- and consultation project is supported and financed by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) over the years 2012 until 2016. It has been identified as a beacon project in the thematic areas of Education and Transformation in the framework of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy. The next workshop will take place in Praia in March 2015.

The papers of the conference will be published as WAI-ZEI papers subsequent to the conference. To date, 19 WAI-ZEI Paper and three Regional Integration Observer (RIO) are available for download. Further aspects of the project include the established WAI library in Praia as well as the envisaged establishment  of a special Master Program in African Regional Integration, in close cooperation with the National University of Cabo Verde (UNI CV). The Master Program represents a substantial achievement in the advancement of educational opportunities in scientific and practical education in the field of regional integration for the whole West Africa. It is currently undergoing evaluation process via the UNI CV governance structures.

The participants of the 5th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting in the Ministry of External Relations of Cabo Verde (MIREX) in Praia.

The participants of the 5th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting in the Ministry of External Relations of Cabo Verde (MIREX) in Praia.

 

2014: What next for EU-Africa relations?

“We are all developing countries in transition”, with these words, Prof. Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt, Director of the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) in Bonn, opened the 4th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting at the University of Avignon from 27-28 March 2014. He pledged for Africa and Europe to become learning communities, reflecting and learning from each other in order to gain new perspectives about bi-regional relations. Prof. Dr. Djénéba Traoré, Director of the West Africa Institute in Praia, Cape Verde (WAI), considered quality education as the key development challenge for Africa and urged the two regions to focus on win-win opportunities within the partnership. Prof. Samuel Priso-Essawe, University of Avignon, further added that the challenge of EU-Africa relations would be the disconnection of Africa to European societies as well as to its own interests, highlighting  the need for African governments to reconnect with civil society and the private sector in order to define external interests, or, as Dr. Félix N‘zué, Director of the Economic Policy Analysis Unit of the ECOWAS Commission, Nigeria, put it: “Africa needs a EU strategy”.

Shortly before the 4th EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, the workshop did not only provide academics and practitioners with the opportunity to develop fresh perspectives and practical solutions for the bi-regional partnership, but also highlighted the untapped value-added of regional integration efforts. The workshop particularly focused on comparative academic work in the EU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the fields of technology and innovation, energy and natural resources, as well as competition and regulatory policies for integrating trade in the service sector.

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from right to left: ZEI Directors Prof. Christian Koenig LL.M. and Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt, Prof. Prisso-Essawe, University of Avignon; Rike Sohn, WAI-ZEI Project Coordinator; Amadou Dieng, Director for Competition, WAEMU Commission; Prof. Djénéba Traoré, Director of the West Africa Institute

 

“Liberalisation does not equal deregulation. Instead, a liberalised market requires more regulatory efforts” highlighted ZEI Director Prof. Christian König in the specialised session on competition and regulatory policies. As private investors seek profits at supply bottlenecks, high prices can be good a indicator for mono- or oligopolistic market structures and, possibly, overregulation. Nevertheless, effective regulation in African markets is often contradicted by the lack of adequate data, lack of political will to implement existing regulations and the lack of regulatory monitoring by an independent judiciary. Further points of discussion within the research group on “Economic integration and regional trade” were the costs and benefits of service trade liberalization (which account for 60% of global GDP), adequate techniques and geographic modes (unilateral, bilateral, regional, bi-regional, multinational and plurilateral) to negotiate their liberalization, as well as the need to harmonize sectoral data to facilitate research and knowledge-based decision-making. There was a wide consensus among participants and guests that the sequencing of regulatory policies plays an important role, as otherwise domestic production risks to be replaced by foreign providers.

In the context of the research area on „Regional Integration and Policy Formulation Processes“, the challenges of regional energy policy as well as a regional policy for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) were discussed. One aspect of particular relevance was the use of regulatory and fiscal measures to support the implementation of policy goals. As a major obstacle, participants defined a lack of awareness for regulatory policies, e.g. the ECOWAS Energy Protocol, that are already existing in the region. This lack of awareness not only causes frictions between member states but also increases the costs of cross-border energy transport and contains investors. Against this background, it the case was made for an intensive awareness raising campaign. Comparing West Africa and Europe, it was argued that specific, tailor-made state-aid measures may also support development of technologies in West Africa in some cases. However, it was also warned to just copy the European approach of fiscal measures in the energy sector to other regions. The bi-regional energy relationship between Europe and West Africa was presented as increasingly interdependent. Also under the impression of the Crimean Crisis, it was plead for a reinvention of the political relationship of the two regions, which could also contribute to a further diversification of Europe´s energy supply. Furthermore, participants criticized the poor regional coordination in the field of STI in West Africa. As in other policy fields, in spite of far-reaching and ambitious goals, an adequate implementation of these goals is often missing. Therefore, a “Unified System of Innovation” was urged, in which STI would acknowledged as equal components of regional and national economic policies in Africa. 

The workshop was part of the research and consulting project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe”, a co-operation of ZEI and the West Africa Institute in Praia, Cape Verde. The WAI-ZEI cooperation project is financed by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the years 2012-2016 as one of the lighthouse projects in transformation and education of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy. The next workshop will take place in September 2014.

The conference paper will be published as WAI-ZEI Papers in the course of the next months. Up to now, ten WAI-ZEI Papers and three Regional Integration Observers (RIO) were edited and are available for download here. Further aspects of the project are the establishment of a library of WAI in Praia and the elaboration of a specific Master Program in African Regional Integration in cooperation with the University of Cape Verde (UNI CV).

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 from right to left: Amadou Dieng, Director for Competition, WAEMU Commission; Prof. Djénéba Traoré, Director of the West Africa Institute; Prof. Mammo Muchie, Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI), Tshwane University of Technology; Beejaye Kokil, Director of the Statistical Unit of the African Development Bank; Daniel Yeboah, WAI-ZEI Project Coordinator

 

2013: ZEI and WAI bring togehter science and practice at their Mid-Term Conference in Praia

“We still have a way to go to make regional integration more effective, but the process is irreversible.  This should be recognized”. With these words, Essien Abel Essien, the director of the Strategic Planning Unit in the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja highlighted the underlying dynamics of the integration process in West Africa during his presentation at the WAI-ZEI Mid-Term Conference from 21-23 at the Ministry for External Relations (MIREX) in Praia. The conference marked the end of the first phase of the research cooperation WAI and ZEI conduct in the years 2012-2016 which is conducted with the support of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The main topics of the event, the record of regional integration in West Africa and the future of European-West African relations were chosen timely given the anniversaries of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS in 2013 (20 years), of WAEMU in 2014 (20 years), of ECOWAS in 2015 (40 years) and the preparations for the Europe-Africa Summit in April 2014. ECOWAS encompasses 15 Member States with a population of over 350 Mio. people.

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In a filled conference room at the Ministry, researchers from both regions intensively debated on the achievements and the challenges of political, economic and legal regional integration in West Africa. There was a wide consensus among participants and guests that the legal enforcement mechanisms and the sensitization of the region´s citizens for their human and economic rights have to be further enhanced. Experts argued that Member States have to learn to stick to regional rules as it lies in their own longer-term benefit.

In the economic sphere the “ECOWAS Rice Initiative” was discussed as an example for a successful regional policy approach as well as the problems of the free circulation of persons and goods. A further intervention touched the problem of a West African energy policy. There are large potentials of fossil and of renewable energy resources in the region as a whole but unfortunately they either remain untapped or are disconnected across borders. The lack of legal frameworks and effective governance impedes the private sector from investing more in the energy sector.

The crucial role of security as a precondition for development and the value that a regional approach can add in this field was another topic.  Furthermore, the Director General of the Cape Verdean Ministry for Rural Development, Carla Helena Tavares, explained to the audience the challenges of a regional agricultural policy taking the example of Cape Verde.

Two days before the meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Dakar, Senegal, to agree on the implementation of a Common External Tariff (CET) in the whole ECOWAS region, researchers analyzed its possible effects on intra-regional trade and also on the trade relationship with Europe and the ongoing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) negotiations.

Prof. Tony Chafer and Ed Stoddard from the University of Portsmouth showed in their presentation that the legitimacy, Europe’s foreign policy is striving for in particular towards Africa can often be undermined by its vested security or economic interests. This obvious contradiction was also part of the discussion of the policy recommendations for a more balanced West-Africa EU partnership in the future. The working sessions was focused on finding ways to fill the idea of an equal partnership with life and to create situations of mutual benefit. The two regions come from different starting points but share common interests. Therefore it was recommended that the partners should exchange more especially culturally and in the education and academic sector and to avoid mutual blockade because of existing prejudices. The conference was an example of an honest exchange of opinions and approaches in order to increase mutual understanding. Against this background the recommendations that were formulated will be sent to decision makers on both sides as a unique contribution of academics and practitioners from West Africa and Europe.

Furthermore, the conference offered the opportunity to exchange on other pressing problems in Africa like migration, brain drain and others.

The WAI-ZEI cooperation will publish the conference paper in as a WAI-ZEI Paper in early 2014. Up to now, nine WAI-ZEI Papers and two Regional Integration Observers (RIO) were edited and are available for download here. Further aspects of the project are the conduct of monitoring measures, the establishment of a library of WAI in Praia and the elaboration of a specific Master Program in African Regional Integration in cooperation with the University of Cape Verde (UNI CV). Following its comprehensive research manual, the cooperation will now enter into its second phase with its next workshop taking place in Avignon in March 2014. 

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2013: Crises in Mali and Europe emphasize the need for bi-regional cooperation

“The crisis in Mali marks an important watershed. Europeans must start to see Africa and Europe as intertwined because the challenges of the continent are not only linked to each other but also to fate of Europe“, Professor Ludger Kühnhardt, Managing Director of ZEI, said during the opening of the second study group meeting within the cooperation of the West Africa Institute (WAI) in Praia, Cape Verde, and ZEI, which took place from 11th to 12th of March in Bonn. The WAI-ZEI research cooperation is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) during the years 2012-2016. 

Professor Djénéba Traoré, Managing Director of WAI, stressed particularly the important role of strong and efficient institutions: “The crisis in Mali was – inter alia – triggered by weak, governmental institutions. Cooperation in terms of regional integration can strengthen these institutions and, thus, prevent crises.” WAI is promoted by UNESCO, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), ECOBANK and the Cape Verdean government. 

On the basis of the European integration experience, both institutes want to contribute to a more efficient and knowledge-based decision-making process in West African regional integration through profoundly conducting research and analysis. In contrast to Europe, a structured, critical assessment of regional decision-making processes, conducted by academics and experts from the West African region is missing so far. 

“It is important to see elaborated plans put into practice”, underlined Sabrina Legis from the International Office of DLR, the responsible implementing agency of BMBF. The joint WAI-ZEI project would be particularly innovative as it not only supports important academic insights but also creates sustainable structures by the mutual exchange of academics and personnel in the long-term.

In the context of the discussions on the political challenges, academics detected that the political will alone is not enough to make regional integration processes efficient and sustainable but that there is also a need for improved governance on a national level, independent regional institutions as well as cooperation with transnational interest groups of civil society, private companies and the diaspora. “The majority of crossborder exchange in West Africa is informal. This clearly illustrates the sleeping potential of regional integration” said Prof. João Resende-Santos of the University of Cape Verde. The question whether differentiated integration can be a tool for regional integration or if different speeds and modes of integration rather support fragmentation remained disputed.

Differentiated integration processes also play an important role regarding monetary integration. Important issues during the discussion were the role of WAEMU and the question of a stabilizing anchor for monetary credibility. Further issues were the regional dominance of France and Nigeria, the (disputed) necessity of incomplete contracts for flexible reactions to crises and the immaterial dimension of financial integration. “The current development status of West Africa is often seen as a disadvantage but might be in fact an advantage in regard to monetary integration”, said Professor Diery Seck, Director of the Centre for Research on Political Economy (CREPOL) in Dakar, Senegal. 

First results of the WAI-ZEI research cooperation are the jointly published WAI-ZEI Papers on intra-regional trade in West Africa and on the comparative analysis of regional institutions and policy formulation processes in ECOWAS, the EU and ASEAN. The meeting was closed with a public panel discussion on “Perspectives on the Malian Crisis: Background and future lessons for Europe and West Africa” at Deutsche Welle which was attended by numerous researchers and journalists of both regions. 

The Bonn workshop was the second of eight meetings in the context of the WAI-ZEI cooperation. The next meeting will take place in October 2013 in Praia.

Research Group

West African and European researchers discussing regional integration in study groups.

Researchers at Deutsche Welle

 Researchers and journalists from West Africa and Europe follow the discussion on the Mali crises at Deutsche Welle.

2012: Sustaining regional integration through research and analysis

“We have to know our realities before we will be able to change them”. By referring to this guiding principle, José Brito, the chairman of the board of the West Africa Institute (WAI) and former Foreign Minister of Cape Verde opened the first study meeting, organized from 1-2 October 2012 by WAI and the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) in Bonn at the venue of WAI in Praia, Cape Verde. The WAI-ZEI research cooperation is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) during the years 2012-2016.

On the basis of the European integration experience, both institutes want to contribute to a more efficient and knowledge-based decision-making process in West African regional integration through profoundly conducted research and analysis. “Our common interest in this partnership is rooted in the goal of mutual learning, exchange and a good neighborly relationship”, said Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt, the Managing Director of WAI. “We want to share the experience of both centers to create a network of currently unconnected academic communities from our two regions”, Prof. John Igue, WAI´s General Manager, added. WAI is promoted by UNESCO, the West African regional communities WAEMU and ECOWAS, ECOBANK and by the Cape Verdean government, which was represented at the opening ceremony by its Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. José Luis Rocha. Dr. Rocha emphasized the interest of Cape Verde to integrate deeper into the West African community also through the work of WAI: “For us, regional integration is not only a political choice but an opportunity”.

Against this background, WAI and ZEI brought together an interdisciplinary group of renowned scholars from West African and European universities and research centers. According to a research manual, developed by WAI and ZEI for the period 2012-2016, the academics presented research findings on questions of policy formulation processes and regional trade in West Africa.

It was discussed on the one hand, which theoretical approaches should be applied, to transparently and efficiently grasp regional integration developments in both regions. On the other hand, it was asked which practical shortcomings exist on the European and on the West African side. “At the moment, the regional integration process in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is neither inclusive nor is it efficiently coordinated among regional institutions and between regional institutions and the Member States. We can learn from the institutional setup of the EU on the working-level”, said Prof. Olusegun Omisakin from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. “We have a lack of common political will for regional political solutions in West Africa because our economic interdependence is comparatively low”, added Prof. Kocra Assoua from the University of Bayreuth in Germany. In the sphere of monetary policy formulation, it was made clear that currently European countries have as serious problems to stick to the convergence criteria they agreed upon as have the Member States of the West African Monetary Zone (WAEMU).

With regard to economic integration, scholars particularly recommended to focus on research questions that go beyond conventional wisdom about the shortcomings of regional trade in West Africa. “Research on economic measures is useful when it finds out, if these measures have had their intended positive effect or not”, argued Prof. Volker Nitsch from the University of Darmstadt. With regard to the external influences on regional trade, the problems of colonial heritage were highlighted. At the same time, it was concluded that the leverage of the EU in Africa continuing to be reduced due to new geopolitical dynamisms and the role of new emerging powers.

The final results of the debates in the two research areas will be published as papers on the web-pages of both institutes at the beginning of 2013. The meeting was closed with a public panel discussion with students and Cape Verdean stakeholders at the Jean Piaget University in Praia on the topic: “The European Crisis: Consequences and Lessons Learned for Africa”.

The Praia workshop was the first of eight meetings in the context of the WAI-ZEI cooperation. The next meeting will take place in March 2013 in Bonn. Other elements of the cooperation include the installation of databases, the developing of specific evaluation tools on regional integration in West Africa and the support for the establishment for a West African Master Program in this sphere. The BMBF is supporting this project with an overall amount of 1.4 Mio. €.

opening ceremony in the Cape Verdean Foreign Ministry

Researchers and guests of the first WAI-ZEI Study Meeting at the opening ceremony in the Cape Verdean Foreign Ministry.

 

2011: ZEI and WAI discuss contents of their forthcoming joint research activities

For the purpose of the fourth ZEI-WAI working group meeting in the framework of the initial phase of cooperation between ZEI and the West Africa Institute in Praia, Cape Verde, ZEI Director Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt again welcomed a delegation of the West Africa Institute (WAI) in Bonn. The cooperation project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The high-ranking group of visitors consisted of the Chairman of the Board of WAI, the General Director of WAI, the future Scientific Program Director of WAI as well as of a member of the Scientific Committee of WAI.  The West Africa Institute is the first research institution West Africa, dealing only with issues of regional integration. It tries to establish closer links between academia and politics. This new research center is financially and institutionally backed and promoted by the most essential regional integration institutions in West Africa, which see the establishment of WAI as a lighthouse project. WAI had asked the Center for European Integration Studies for a close cooperation during its phase of establishment.

During the meeting, discussions concentrated on the academic content of the next phase of cooperation that is planned to be conducted between 2012 and 2015. A detailed design for the research work of three African-European study groups in the areas, “Regional Integration and Policy Formulation Processes”, “Economic Integration and Regional Trade” as well as “Institutional Capacity Development” for regional integration was elaborated. Both sides look forward to continuing their cooperation and research work successfully in the years 2012-2015.  The research results that are to be expected, will contribute innovative impulses to the comparative academic discussion of regional integration efforts in West Africa and to their practical implementation.

2011: ZEI and WAI set the course for future cooperation

The future of the West African regional integration process and the priorities for research in this field have recently been discussed during the third working group meeting in the framework of the cooperation project between the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) and the West Africa Institute (WAI), financed by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which took place in the capital of Cape Verde, Praia, from 10-13 July 2011. The discussion was held between a ZEI delegation headed by ZEI Director Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt and several stakeholders from WAI, among which were the Chairman of the WAI Board José Brito, the interim director of WAI, Prof. John Igue and WAI´s project coordinator, Dr. Corsino Tolentino. BMBF was represented by Ms. Nina Helm from the International Bureau of BMBF.

In the course of the meeting the two institutes paved the way for the structure of a longer-term cooperation between WAI and ZEI until 2015. In this context, ZEI will on the one hand forward its expertise in setting-up sustainable research structures to WAI and on the other hand joint research will be conducted. The thematic focus of this cooperation will lie in three fields: “Regional Integration and Policy Formulation Process”, “Economic Integration and Regional Trade” and “Institutional Capacity Development for Regional Integration”. The WAI-ZEI approach is based on equal partnership and a comparative perspective. As a West African-European effort for bi-regional research cooperation, the project is new and innovative in its kind.

Apart from the project-related talks that took place at the seat of WAI, the ZEI delegation took part in a general debate at the School of Business and Governance of the National University of Cape Verde, where questions of regional integration in West Africa and in Europe were discussed. The fruitful discussion was moderated by the Dean of the School, Prof. Joao Santos. At this occasion, WAI and ZEI also presented the results of their work in the initial phase of cooperation: a “Reader” on sustainable regional integration and the “Joint WAI-ZEI Discussion Paper” with contribution of West African and European authors.

ZEI-WAI_2011

The ZEI delegation together with West Africa Institute (WAI) stakeholders at the seat of WAI in Praia.

 

2010: ZEI-WAI Cooperation

The Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) and the West African Institute (WAI) understand a comprehensive analysis of obstacles to regional integration as a genuine academic contribution of political advisory work. During an intensive discussion with politicians, diplomats and local academics of Cape Verde, as well as with representatives of the European Union and the United Nations in the West African country, experts of ZEI and WAI reflected about institutional, socio-economic and security issues in the context of the development of the European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The workshop was held in the Cape Verdean Foreign Ministry in Praia as part of the consultation process of both research institutes with support of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Following the inaugural meeting in Bonn in June 2010, on December 14, 2010 a ZEI delegation headed by ZEI Director Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt engaged in intensive and fruitful discussion with the newly elected Chairman of the WAI Board and Foreign Minister of Cape Verde, José Brito, and the Coordinator of the West Africa Institute, Dr. Corsino Tolentino, at the seat of WAI in Praia. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the long-term WAI-ZEI cooperation as an academic pilot project in the context of the “Africa-EU-Partnership”, existing since 2007. After an intensive on-site visit of the WAI offices, the ZEI and WAI partners discussed and decided on key parameters of the future cooperation between both research institutes. For 2011, WAI and ZEI plan a data bank, first joint publications, an exchange of personal and the development of a joint long-term research plan for the period of 2012-2015. The next meeting of the ZEI-WAI working group will be held in July 2011, again in Praia.

ZEI-WAI_2010

The ZEI delegation participating in a discussion with politicians, diplomats and academics on obstacles and the sustainability of regional integration, taking place in the Cape Verdean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

2010: ZEI starts long-term cooperation with the West Africa Institute (WAI)

A new long-term cooperation of the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) with the West Africa Institute (WAI),based on Praia (Cape Verde) has started under the motto „Sustainable regional integration in West Africa“. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the scope of the strategy of the German federal government to promote the internationalization of science and research. The WAI is the first institute of its kind in the region. Initiated by UNESCO and the West African regional integration community ECOWAS, its tasks are to analyze the regional integration process in West Africa, to concretely consult political decision-makers and to disseminate knowledge on regional integration in the whole region. While West African regional integration has developed stronger than ever in recent years, the region is still in need of a more solid scientific analysis of obstacles to regional integration. To make the new effort initiated by the establishment of the West Africa Institute sustainable, ZEI was asked to academically and administratively support the West Africa Institute (WAI) in framing and implementing its first research
plan, explained ZEI Director Prof. Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt. For this purpose, a joint Working Group of ZEI and WAI was set up, consisting of African and European scholars aimed at defining the most pressing obstacles to sustainable regional integration in West Africa and to develop successful approaches to resolve them. At the initial meeting of the Working Group on June 29, 2010 in Bonn, Dr. Corsino Tolentino, founding Director of the West Africa Institute (WAI) and a former Education Minister of Cape Verde, welcomed the strong commitment of ZEI and the valuable support of the German Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMBF) and its International Bureau. The ZEI-WAI Working Group is coordinated at ZEI by Research Fellow Matthias Vogl.

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