Regionalism and Integration in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Experiences, Issues and Realities at the Close of the Twentieth Century

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Globalization, the ‘border-less world’ or the ‘end of geography’ is an important theme of the post-Cold War discussion of the nature of international order. Although rarely tied to any clearly articulated theory, it has become a powerful metaphor in the sense that a number of universal processes are at work generating increased interconnection and interdependence between both states and societies. Increasingly common are images of a global flood of money, people, values, and ideas overflowing the old system of national barriers seeking to preserve state autonomy. Two areas are discernible in this regard: First, territorial boundaries are becoming less important. Second, traditional understandings of sovereignty are being undermined and individual regions are being viewed within a broader global context. This paper investigates the impact of the changing global conditions on regional integration efforts in SubSaharan Africa. The underlying argument in this paper is that there are a number of ways in which globalization works against the emergence of regionalism in sub-Saharan Africa. Changes in the global economy such as technology and productive systems, and especially the impact of information technologies have meant that regional industrial policies and the promotion of regional champions are no longer considered adequate. Therefore, the assertion of this paper is that globalization is undermining the sustainability of integration efforts within Sub-Sahara Africa. Globalization works against regionalism where states are increasingly facing powerful pressures toward the homogenization of economic policies solely to attract foreign investment and technology and to compete in a closely-knit market arena. Consequently, regionalism in Sub-Saharan Africa is being deemphasized due to the emerging centripetal forces of globalization.