Regionalism has a long history in Africa. Its earliest manifestations can be traced to the pre-independence period when the regionalist impulse found expression in Pan-Africanism, highlighted in the Pan-African conferences organized in the first half of the last century. A few regional economic groupings were formed during that period, albeit in a colonial context. Two prominent examples dating from that period are the East African Community and the Southern African Customs Union (the world’s oldest customs union).
The struggle for and attainment of independence provided the main impetus for further regional integration, based on the belief that regionalism would result in strengthened political solidarity, mutual consolidation of newly-gained independence and collective
self-reliance. Thus, Africa’s post-independence efforts to implement regionalism focused on both political and economic changes. This article examines the progress made in regionalism in Africa and describes some of its key features, assesses its impact on intra-Africa and external trade in the context of globalization, and draws some conclusions.
“Otobo, Ejeviome Eloho. 2004. “Regionalism and Trade: A Glimpse of Africa’s Experience.” New School Economic Review 1(1): 75-81