Six Decades of African Integration: Successes and Failures


Gottschalk K.


The African Union (AU), with antecedent Organisation of African Unity (OAU), is now six decades old, and its sub-regional affiliates, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC), up to four decades old. There is a need to inquire into why their problems have been so persistent. This exploration is based on desktop research into some of the scholarly literature, the media, and the findings and recommendations of AU commissions. It is informed by constructivism and Pan-Africanism.

The AU and its affiliates are nonetheless arguably more successful than their comparative peers in the Global South. Yet it is usually criticized in the literature, and organs such as the Pan-African Parliament meet with media derision. The AU’s notable successes include establishing its agency in global governance. It has coordinated African states’ voting on the UN Security Council and established an embryonic diplomatic corps with representation on major regional and global organisations and at the two world powers, the USA and PRC. Scholars should also note the continental and multi-lateral activities strengthening African integration that occur outside the AU, through a variety of NGOs, QUANGOs, and business sectoral organisations.

This article finds that only the European Union has been more successful, in part because it has a supranational dimension, plus two orders of magnitude more staff, and a budget two orders of magnitude larger. Further, many of the persistent problems of the AU and the RECs are problems of their member state governments, extraverted upwards into the continental and sub-regional structures.


African Integration, OAU, AU, AfCFTA, institution-building, inter-governmental, supranational




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For citation:

Gottshalk, K. (2024). Six Decades of African Integration: Successes and Failures. Journal of the Institute for African Studies. № 2. Pp. 24–39.

Для цитирования:

Готтшалк К. Шесть десятилетий африканской интеграции: достижения и неудачи. Ученые записки Института Африки РАН. 2024. № 2. С. 24–39. 2412-5717-2024-67-2-24-39