Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Integration: The One Thing Africa Needs

The first European Community, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), was proposed by the French economist Jean Monnet  as a means of strengthening ties between France and Germany through the integration of coal and steel industries after WWII. This obviously successful plan of ensuring security in Europe was then opened up to other European countries with the Treaty of Paris being signed in 1951 (which expired in July 2002). This was profitable to all involved and further attempts at integration between the then member states were made and fast forward to now, the presence of the European Union. If European countries saw the need to integrate to achieve lasting peace and increase prosperity in a continent scarred by war, how determined are African countries to achieve political and economic independence after the shared pain of colonialism and slavery?

It certainly is asking too much of countries to offer up part of their sovereignty to an organisation (as is the case with the supranational organisation of the EU) to achieve common interests but it certainly will be for our own good. What does the continent of Africa lack? Technology? A thriving secondary market? How difficult will that be to achieve should we (all 54 countries) work together as a single force? Granted, integration of all 54 countries will not be an easy feat, even the EU has currently 28 member states but that is their issue.

Africa has a large and youthful workforce which when given proper education and training, will be more than able to develop ideas and develop technological know-how to process the vast primary resources we have. Our internal market looks very promising. Imagine if we, as a community, control prices of gold from South Africa and Ghana, cocoa from Ivory Coast and Ghana, crude oil from Nigeria, Libya and Cape Verde, timber, bauxite, aluminium, all resources from the North, West, East and South of Africa. How will our internal market look like should all 54 countries decide on import restrictions from the West. No longer will we be a dumping ground for second-hand clothes, because we have more than enough cotton produced in our backyard and more than enough designers who create styles which suit us (mind you, not of inferior quality either because I’ll be damned if Christie Brown doesn’t make clothes if not better than rival that of Prada and other houses). Neither will we have the need to import carrots from the Netherlands because South Africa produces more than enough and why ever import dairy products with our Fulani herdsmen?

We have it all right here. Our focus should be on our comparative advantages as individual states and with that the improvement of the integral market. Perhaps this is far fetched, given our record of corrupt leaders, but the upcoming generation are frustrated so it is not exactly improbable. Only if we will be willing to identify the laws of whatever organisation it will be as sovereign and its laws supreme over the laws of the individual member states. An attempt to make this possible will mean we no longer have to seek out help from countries which put us at an unfair disadvantage and take our primary resources at a steal and sell us the processed materials at outrageous prices plus incredulous interest rates and conditions on loans when they owe us reparations!

We were not as integrated before colonialism but we sure were productive and we have not lost that touch. We have only been made to believe our output is not on par with theirs, which is not true but for our lack of technology which can be fixed. Integration, and with a supranational organisation which will not only enhance economic growth but political security and whatnot, will only push us from developing economy to a developed economy.

By @ayawuku (