Study Groups

ARISA presents innovative approaches to regional integration research coordination in Africa, particularly regarding the issue of migration (8th Study Group Meeting, April 18-19, 2016 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 8. Treffen 2016
Participants of the 8th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting in the Foreign Ministry of Cabo Verde. © ZEI

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.

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 in WAI-ZEI Paper Nr. 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 und ZEI:;

African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA) Constitutes Inaugural Assembly (7th Study Group Meeting, November 10-11, 2015 in Bonn)

WAI ZEI 7. Treffen 2015
WAI Director Prof. Traore and ZEI Director Prof. Kühnhardt with ARISA Chairman Prof. Semedo, ARISA Board Members and the team of the WAI-ZEI cooperation project. © ZEI

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.

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 WAI-ZEI Paper No.24: Ludger Kühnhardt und Djénéba Traoré (Hrsg.): Brainstorming for a Pan-African Network in Regional Integration Studies, Bonn/Praia, 2015 and on the WAI Website.

Connecting African Regional Integration Researchers (6th Study Group Meeting, March 25-26, 2015 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 6. Treffen 2015
The participants of the 6th WAI-ZEI Studiy Group Meeting in Praia. © ZEI

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.

Migration and Civil Society as development drivers within a regional context (5th Study Group Meeting, September 8-9, 2014 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 5. Treffen 2014
The participants of the 5th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting in the Ministry of External Relations of Cabo Verde (MIREX) in Praia. © ZEI

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.

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.

Prof. Abderrahmane Ngaidé von der Université Cheick Anta Diop in Dakar, ging darüber hinaus auf die Bedeutung kultureller Vielfalt für regionale Integration in Westafrika ein. Aus seiner Perspektive beweisen die historischen Erfahrungen der Region mit ihren Königreichen und vielfältigen Governance-Formen, dass die perzipierten ethnischen Bruchlinie kein Hindernis im regionalen Integrationsprozess darstellen, sondern auf dem Weg zu einer „ECOWAS of the People“ positiv genutzt werden können.

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 Paper 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 University of Cape 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.

What next for EU-Africa relations? (4th Study Group Meeting, March 27-28, 2014 in Avignon)

WAI ZEI 4. Treffen 2014
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 © ZEI

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.

“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 Observer (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).

ZEI and WAI bring togehter science and practice at their Mid-Term Conference in Praia (3rd Study Group Meeting, October 21-22, 2013 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 3. Treffen 2013

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.

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.

Crises in Mali and Europe emphasize the need for bi-regional cooperation (2nd Study Group Meeting, March 11-12, 2013 in Bonn)

WAI ZEI 2. Treffen 2013
West African and European researchers discussing regional integration in study groups. © ZEI

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.

Sustaining regional integration through research and analysis (1st Study Group Meeting, October 1-2, 2012 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 1. Treffen 2012
Researchers and guests of the first WAI-ZEI Study Meeting at the opening ceremony in the Cape Verdean Foreign Ministry. © ZEI

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. €.

ZEI and WAI discuss contents of their forthcoming joint research activities (4th Working Group Meeting in November 2011 in Bonn)

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.

ZEI and WAI set the course for future cooperation (3rd Working Group Meeting, July 10-13, 2011 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 2011
The ZEI delegation together with West Africa Institute (WAI) stakeholders at the seat of WAI in Praia. © ZEI

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.

WAI-ZEI Cooperation (2nd Working Group Meeting, December 14, 2010 in Praia)

WAI ZEI 2011
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. © ZEI

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 starts long-term cooperation with the West Africa Institute (WAI) (1st Working Group Meeting, Juni 29, 2010)

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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