Second Annual Conference on Regional Integration in Africa (ACRIA) - ABUJA 7 - 8 July 2011


Second Annual Conference on Regional Integration in Africa (ACRIA) - ABUJA 7 - 8 July 2011

Over the past decade, African countries have increasingly embraced regional integration as a preferred strategy for economic growth and development.  Revitalization and expansion of the membership of the East African Community (EAC), enhanced harmonization of the monetary and business settings of the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA), efforts deployed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to create a single monetary zone in the region, as well as inception of the African Union (AU) to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU) ...


Concept Note

A. Motivation

Over the past decade, African countries have increasingly embraced regional integration as a preferred strategy for economic growth and development.  Revitalization and expansion of the membership of the East African Community (EAC), enhanced harmonization of the monetary and business settings of the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA), efforts deployed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to create a single monetary zone in the region, as well as inception of the African Union (AU) to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU), provide compelling illustrations of the pervasive climate of collective plans designed and implemented by African countries to carry out the regional integration agenda.  Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), policymakers make plans and pronouncements on bold step towards fuller integration with a fair degree of popular support.


However, one notable weak point in the current situation resides in the insufficient research that is conducted to inform and influence the region’s regional integration strategy and policies.  While many African countries have national research centers in various disciplines related to economic and social development, the Continent still lacks a variety of research institutions with a regional focus capable of conducting quality research.  Resources made available to support region-wide research in general, and economic research in particular, are so scarce that the dearth of research output in this regard can be largely explained by it.  Yet, the regional integration agenda cannot reap all its benefits without the help of state-of-the-art research that will assist policymakers and other stakeholders.  Furthermore, a continuous dialogue between research and policy needs to be established to successfully tackle all the future challenges on the road to development.  It is also hoped that such dialogue will give rise to more concerted scientific efforts on the part of African researchers and research institutions and facilitate emergence of more home-grown developmental solutions, thus arousing more consensus around policy options.


It is therefore imperative to initiate a series of meetings of professionals who will present their research findings on the regional integration strategies of SSA countries and contribute to the formulation of adequate policies in the pursuit of this agenda. The purpose of the planned Second Annual Conference on Regional Integration in Africa (ACRIA) is to provide such an opportunity.


B. Historical context



The previous Conference was organized in June 2010, in Accra, Ghana, on the theme of “Regional Monetary and Financial Integration in West Africa”.  The selection process

resulted in presentation of 14 manuscripts that are currently being published in book form.  The Accra Conference was co-organized by the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) and CREPOL.  It provided an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration between two regionally-focused research organizations and proved to be very successful.  As a result of that success, two other regional research institutions, the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) and the West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) decided to collaborate in the organization of this year’s Conference.  It is noteworthy that WAMI, WAMA and WAIFEM are creations of West African Governments and report to their member States on a regular basis and therefore enjoy privileged access to senior policymakers in the region.  Therefore, it is expected that the research output that will be presented at the Conference will be communicated to African Governments and could, hopefully, influence policy.  Availability of these research findings will also be secured through publication of the manuscripts in book form.


C. Organization of the Conference


The purpose of the Conference, which is entitled “Sectoral Policies to Strengthen Regional Integration », is to allow researchers from Africa and abroad, including Africans from the Diaspora, to present the results of their work, receive comments on their manuscripts and contribute to the publication of a book on the main topic.  It gives them an opportunity to disseminate their research output among African policymakers and African development stakeholders as well as expand the bibliography available to scholars and students with an interest on Africa.  The proceedings of the Conference are also expected to be used by development partners and international organizations that work on African issues.  The meeting will be held in June 2011, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, a few days before the African Union Summit of Heads of State. The intent is to raise awareness of senior policymakers on the results of current African economic research on regional integration and on the potential gains that could arise from collaboration between researchers and policymakers. The Conference is a joint activity of CREPOL, WAMA, WAMI and WAIFEM, in collaboration with the US-based African Finance and Economic Association (AFEA).


Due to financial constraints, only authors and discussants of the manuscripts will be invited for the two-day forum and approximately 20 participants will be expected, half of them Africa-based, the other half affiliated with foreign institutions.  All the manuscripts are expected to be complete and circulated to all participants, each paper being assigned to one or two discussants.  Following each paper’s presentation and the ensuing discussant’s comments, a general plenary debate will aim to give comments and suggestions to the author(s) for final corrections and submission for inclusion in the book project.  While most contributors are senior researchers with high academic ranks, the Conference organizers will seek to encourage a few young researchers, usually Ph.D. students or new Ph.D. graduates, by inviting them to present a paper, thus giving them an opportunity to enhance the quality of their work and start networking with other researchers.


D. Follow-up activities



Four follow-up activities are planned in the aftermath of the Conference.  First, the manuscripts will be collated into a monograph that will be published after all the corrections are made by the authors.  It is hoped that such a book will add to the body of knowledge concerning Africa’s development.  Second, each author will write a policy brief that will be

circulated widely among various target groups including national and regional policymakers, training institutions and the media.  Third, all African RECs will receive an advanced copy of the monograph in a bid to help them identify African experts who could contribute to their work.  Finally, Conference organizers will seek to consolidate and perpetuate collaboration among African researchers on the one hand, and between Africa-based researchers and researchers from the Diaspora, on the other hand.


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