Continental Integration and Trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Continental Integration and Trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0477-8.ch014
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This chapter is concerned with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its trade potential to increase continental integration in Africa. The chapter argues that SADC has the potential not only to increase continental integration, but also as the building block for AfCTA to realise its vision of promoting continental economic integration, equitable human development, and advance African institutional development. Regional theory was adopted to comprehend the role, shared interests, challenges, and goals among SADC member countries. The chapter found that SADC region is endowed with natural, cultural, and human resources, but lacks state capacity, cooperation, and integration to optimize such resources. The chapter is qualitative in nature and uses systematic literature review to deliberate on the role and challenges faced by SADC in increasing continental integration and further forge socio-economic development between and within its members.
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Historically, the African continent is not only endowed with natural resources but is also considered to have a demographically youthful content (Honwana, 2013). Africa’s history is intrinsically interwoven to the decades of imperialism and colonialism, and European domination which created borders and territorial boundaries envisaged today (Zahorik, 2018). Through the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, Africa was auctioned and demarcated among colonial powers and foreign political and socio-economic systems were used to exploit its resources to benefit Europe (Gumede & Oloruntoba, 2018). The Scramble for Africa saw Africa being sliced up like a cake with Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Britain having a bigger share of the cake (Southall, 2010). Thus, the Scramble for Africa made the European nations believe that Africa was discovered, hence, colonies were created for exploitation and settlement (Pakenham, 1991). From this colonial-historical perspective, Africa became the satellite of European powers through imperial expansion and capitalist industrialisation. For Ghai (2014), colonialism was a device used by colonisers to exploit Africa's resources for imperial benefit.

Africa is economically handicapped by the Western imposition and the adoption of neo-liberal economic policies (Amtaika, 2017). Colonialism in particular created strategies that exploit African natural resources. Thus, the Scramble for Africa was a resources-driven agenda to exploit Africa’s mineral wealth with Bretton Woods Institutions (IMF and World Bank) being the “new frontiers” in post-World War II (Landsberg, 2018, p. 16). Africa is endowed with an abundance of both human and natural resources; however, the paradox is that Africa is one of the poorest continents in the world. Neo-liberal economic policies are blamed for contributing towards poverty and inequality with the South-based nations bearing the brunt (World Bank Group, 2018). It can be argued that Africa is caught up in a conundrum in terms of which economic approaches or models to adopt for economic freedom in the 21st century. Due to various factors, political freedom as envisaged by former President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah has not yielded economic fruits for the African continent. Economically, impoverished Africa re-affirms How Europe underdeveloped Africa to How Africa perpetuated its underdevelopment, socially, economically, politically, and culturally (Tshishonga, 2022).

At the centre of Africa’s socio-economic woes is the self-serving leadership with corruption as its modus operandi. While some SADC nations are on the developmental path, most of them are on the verge of being failed states characterised by governments’ inability to develop economic policies, stimulate growth, enforce laws and deliver service (Schwella, 2017). The marketisation of neo-liberal economic policies underpinned by capitalist modes of production sees the state being removed from the centre of directing economic planning and implementation (Carroll & Jarvis, 2017). By conforming to market-driven economic policies, Africa not only harvests slow economic development but is also embroiled in universal liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation perpetuated by global capitalism (Stubbs, 2017). Most African nations are bureaucratised with political and business elites in coalitions driven by material and ideological forces as well as state-capital relations. For the economy to grow in the SADC, and to generally benefit its citizens, state-directed development should deviate from conventional capitalist economic models in favour of regional integration and economy with balanced local investments (Feketha, 2019). Thus, within the continent, the adoption of neo-liberal policies has engendered structural inequality and inequality which violate human rights, and equal right to dignity and respect (Therborn, 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Regional Integration: An integration is the process by which two or more nation-states agree to co-operate and work closely together to achieve peace, stability and wealth.

Developmental State: A state that prioritises sustained economic development through industrial development with political, social and policy dimensions as we as the sound relationship between public and private sectors.

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Is an agreement created as a free trade area encompassing most of Africa and was established in 2018 at eliminating barriers to trade in Africa by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, eliminating barriers to trade in Africa.

Economic Integration: The integration that takes place through the amalgamation of economies or economic policies of tow or more counties in a region.

African Union: The African Union was formed in 2001 replacing the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as a continental apex organization with currently 54 countries. The African Union was established to advance democracy, human rights and sustainable economic development for the African continent.

Free Trade: Involves the movement of goods and services either through importation or exportation without any barriers or restrictions such as tariffs and quotas.

Africa: Is one of the continents (Asia, Latin America, and Europe) with 54 countries under the auspices of the African Union.

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