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Meetings of the Study Groups

8th Study Group Meeting in April 2016 (Praia)

ARISA presents innovative approaches to regional integration research coordination in Africa, particularly regarding the issue of migration

Audience premierminikThe numerous and tragic deaths in the Mediterranean Sea are  calling upon all African and European governments to act on how to best address migration challenges and implement policies which may be decisive for the future of regional integration in both continents. It is also an important issue for the Republic of Cabo Verde as a country of historically and projected high mobility rates.  With this statement, His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde, José Maria Neves; addressed the participants of the 8th WAI-ZEI Study Groups Meeting, held from 18 – 19 April in Praia, Republic of Cabo Verde, during an audience he granted in the government building. The Prime Minister reconfirmed his support to the WAI-ZEI research cooperation and the upcoming continental research network of ARISA, promising to also highlight this important initiative towards the new Cabo Verdean Government, sworn in on 22 April 2016. For his Excellency José Maria Neves, regional integration and African unity constitute strategic approaches to achieve sustainable development and booster the competitiveness of the African continent. He therefore acknowledged WAI commitments to deal with the challenges of regional integration and to create scientific evidence and innovative policy-approaches for the future of the African continent, transforming its economies and creating sustainable jobs for its young population.

STM Praia 2016 Group picminikAgainst the backdrop of the current migration situation, the last meeting within the framework of the WAI-ZEI project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe” was dedicated to the discussion of social, political, legal and economic aspects of migration within and across regions. Furthermore, building upon the reflexions on the establishment of a pan-African network in African regional integration during the WAI-ZEI Study Group Meetings in March 2015 in Praia, and in November 2015 in Bonn, and as laid down in WAI-ZEI Paper Nr. 24, the African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA) was formally launched on 19 April 2016. The innovative ARISA network strives to bridge knowledge and research gaps in the field of regional integration in Africa and beyond by bringing together experienced researchers from all African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) within a steering committee with the aim to connect African Regional integration researchers, practitioners and political stakeholders across the continent.

In his opening address to workshop participants, Ing. José Brito, Chairman of the WAI Board, congratulated WAI and ZEI for their fruitful bi-regional cooperation and welcomed the ARISA initiative which could substantially contribute to the promotion of intellectual autonomy in African RECs.

Director of ZEI, Prof. Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt shed further light on the cooperation, a beacon project of the German Ministry’s Africa Strategy, since the first initial contact in 2007. Both partners could be proud, not least because of the successful curriculum development of the Master of African Regional Integration (MARI), developed in cooperation with the University of Cabo Verde (Uni-CV) and set to start later in 2016: “Building on the successful Cooperation between the West Africa Institute and the Center for European Integration Studies in the years 2010-2016 and extending it over the African continent from 2016-2019, the African Regional Integration Studies Association will be an important building block of African Regional Integration, particularly in overlapping fields of regional policy and research, such as migration”.

Prof. Dr. Djénéba Traoré, the Director General of WAI expressed her sincere acknowledgements to the Government of the Republic of Cabo Verde, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), both ECOWAS and UEMOA CommissionsUNESCO  and OSIWA  for their financial and technical support. She underlined WAI’s realisation of the study on the 2011-15 ECOWAS Strategic Plan and the contribution of the research findings to the formulation of the Community Strategic Framework (CSF) 2016-20 . In this context, the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March 2016 between the ECOWAS Commission and WAI aims at strengthening the role of WAI as a think tank of reference generating innovative ideas and strategies to solve the issues of regional integration in West Africa and beyond.      

She highlighted the historical development of the WAI-ZEI cooperation on regional integration and emphasised the relevant collaborative work between researchers from Africa and Europe that has given birth to ARISA as an innovative approach in terms of coordination of research on regional integration in Africa with the aim to produce innovative and academically-grounded policy advice, addressing the critical challenges that regional integration processes in Africa and Europe face.

The first ARISA research results were focused on the issue of migration and will be published within a special edition of the African Union’s Journal “African Regional Integration and Development Review” later this year. The first Annual Symposium will take place from 21 to 22 November 2016 in Nairobi (Kenya), organized in cooperation with the Centre for Regional Integration (CEFRI) and the Institute for Regional Integration & Development (IRID@CUEA).

Further information on ARISA can be found here in WAI-ZEI Paper No.24: Ludger Kühnhardt and Djénéba Traoré (eds.): Brainstorming for a Pan-African Network in Regional Integration Studies, Bonn/Praia, 2015, as well as on the websites of WAI and ZEI:


WAI-ZEI Project Coordinators

Ilva Ifland (ZEI), E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Phone. +49 (0) 228 73-3086

Rike Sohn (ZEI), E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Phone. +49 (0) 228 73-1882

Ablam Benjamin Akoutou (WAI), E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Phone. (+238) 262 48 79



7th Study Group Meeting in November 2015 (Bonn)

African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA) Constitutes Inaugural Assembly

Gruppenfoto ARISAAt the invitation of the West Africa Institute (WAI) and the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI), African researchers met in Bonn from 10-11 November 2015 to facilitate the establishment of the “African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA)” in order to foster a critical understanding of the Member States, historical development, institutions, processes, policies, programs, issues, and challenges of African regional integration. The Association will develop a community of academics and practitioners in order to raise the knowledge of and build capacity in African regional integration. It will organize activities with a specific focus on regional integration studies, publish research results and contribute to overcoming obstacles to sustainable and people-centered regional integration processes with practical policy implications.

Intensive discussions during the meeting focused on the first preliminary Strategic Plan, a Statute and a Roadmap of ARISA. Furthermore, the inaugural assembly of ARISA was constituted. The Inaugural Assembly unanimously elected Prof. Dr. Gervasio Semedo, University of Tours, as the first Chairman of the African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA). Being a member of the African diaspora, Prof. Semedo expressed his great confidence in the establishment of ARISA in order to support the process of regional integration in Africa by explaining the current trends and proposing solutions to correct existing shortcomings. The representative of the African Union Commission, Dr. René N’Guettia Kouassi, Director of Economic Affairs, participated in the inaugural meeting of ARISA. He strongly supported this initiative due to the fact that ARISA offers an additional opportunity to fast-track the implementation of Africa’s integration agenda. Therefore, the African Union Commission will play an important role in order to contribute to the achievement of ARISA’s objective.

BMBF CMYK sponsored by.jpgThe meeting took place within the bi-regional research and consulting project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe” financed by German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) from 2012 until 2016 which was identified as a beacon project in the thematic areas of Education and Transformation within the framework of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy. Researchers will meet again in Praia, Cabo Verde, from 18 to 19 April 2016 to formally launch ARISA as an African-owned and Africa-based, non-governmental organization without profit-making purpose. The April meeting will also include first thematic inputs on the topic of migration as a human factor.

Further information on ARISA can be found in: Ludger Kühnhardt and Djénéba Traoré (eds.): Brainstorming for a Pan-African Network in Regional Integration Studies, WAI-ZEI Paper No.24, Bonn/Praia, 2015 and on the WAI and ZEI Website:;



6th Study Goup Meeting in March (Praia)

WAI and ZEI present the concept of a Master program in African regional integration

Presentation of Master programAn important step forward for the sustainability of cooperation between ZEI and the West Africa Institute (WAI): Together, the two research institutes have developed a curriculum for a Master's degree in African Regional integration to be implemented at the National University of Cabo Verde (Uni-CV) in Praia, the seat of WAI. The directors of ZEI and WAI , Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt and Prof. Djénéba Traoré, as well as the Rector of the Uni-CV, Prof. Judite Nascimento, handed the detailed curriculum and its implementation strategy over to the Cab Verdean Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr. António Leão de Aguiar Correia e Silva, on the 25th of March 2015.

Master Program P 1It should be pointed out that, the National University has approved the Master program within all its academic bodies. Education minister Correia e Silva assured that the Ministry will use all the means at its disposal to ensure an orderly start of the Master's program in the academic year 2016/2017. The training program would be a key component in the internationalization strategy of his country. For WAI, the cooperation with Uni-CV is another pillar for anchoring the institute in the host country and its work as a research institute which is oriented towards the entire West African region.

As part of the research cooperation of ZEI and WAI on sustainable regional integration in West Africa and Europe, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting the practical implementation of the study program at the National University of Cabo Verde until mid-2016. Visit at MESCIAlso as part of the WAI-ZEI research collaboration, planning meetings for the establishment of a pan-African network in regional integration took place on the 25th and 26th of March the continuation of which is scheduled for autumn 2015 in Bonn.


5th Study group Meeting in September 2014 (Praia)

Migration and Civil Society as development drivers within a regional context

3858“The Ebola Crisis clearly reflects the governance deficits on the African continent and makes integrated responses on a regional level more necessary than ever before. Since the first outbreak of Ebola almost thirty years ago, no consequences and lessons have been drawn”. It was with these unequivocal words that the Chairman of the WAI-Board and former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde, Jose Brito, welcomed the participants of the 5th Study Group Meeting in the framework of the WAI-ZEI Research Cooperation  which took place on 8th - 9th September, 2014 at the Ministry of External Relations (MIREX) of Cabo Verde. The current outbreak of the epidemic led to a reduced number of participants at the meeting due to closure of borders by the Government of Cabo Verde. In light of this alarming crisis, the potentials and problems in the field of migration and civil society engagement, which are inherently connected to the current Ebola crisis, were discussed by prestigious scholars and practitioners from both Europe and Africa.

3812For the first time in the WAI-ZEI Project, some participants held their presentation via video link. This further proves the growing importance of modern communication technology in the area of education and research in West Africa, which can be utilized to overcome existing infrastructural deficits. This topic will be discussed in detail within a further workshop in the framework of the WAI-CEDIR Fellowship. Financed by the German BMBF, the workshop will scrutinize the connection between higher education and regional integration and is scheduled at the end of September in Praia.

In her introductory speech, the General Director of WAI, Prof. Djénéba Traoré, resumed the results of the WAI-ZEI Research Cooperation after having acknowledged all WAI Partners and supporters and the organizing team. She underlined the relevant cooperation of the experts of the WAI-ZEI project  and also presented the most recent publications of WAI.

3871Subsequently, the presentations in the economic research area paid particular attention to effects of intra-regional migration on the regional labour market of West Africa. In response to data deficits, the recommendation to introduce a Migration Information System was raised. Furthermore, the experts stressed the importance of surmounting language barriers through targeted and timely education measures. What is more, border management in West Africa ought not to be perceived by responsible bodies as a means of control, but rather as security services for citizens in the framework of the free movement of people within the ECOWAS Zone. However, this would require a deep and lasting change in awareness.

In the framework of further study sessions, the potential and impact of international remittances by migrants and members of the Diaspora for their countries of origin was assessed. Remittances represent cross-border financial support via person-to-person payments from the Diaspora to assist their families in the countries of origin. In order to better apply and make use of the economic potential of remittances as a source of poverty reduction and future investment stimulus, the African Union (AU) recently established the African Institute for Remittances (AIR). Its experiences were shared in the context of the conference. Additionally, Prof. Matthias Lücke from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy highlighted the importance of a targeted facilitation of legal migration and the adjustment of international education, pension and health system standards in order to prevent  „Brain Drain“ and illegal migration. To allow for the possible return of migrants to their countries of origin (circular migration), domestic conditions have to be altered and improved as well.

In the context of the first research area, which focuses on political aspects of regional policy formulation, Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt presented a historical review of the last hundred years following the beginning World War I, to point to the lessons learned from this seminal catastrophe and analyze its effect on the development of regional awareness. Simultaneously, he emphasized that these lessons are constantly put to the test via pressing global conflicts. Consequently, a convincing and active promotion of the regional idea under the umbrella of democratic values remains essential. The intrinsic link between the importance and contribution of civil society and cultural factors became evident during further presentations. Nana Afadzinu of the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in Ghana underlined that civil society actors, ranging from student organizations to unions, have always been engines of regional integration in West Africa. This holds also true for the engagement of NGOs and women’s organizations in the field of peace and security. However, she also critically assessed that the actual political influence of these transnational actors remains limited and their potential unused due to obstacles in capacity-related and organizational shortcomings. Prof. Stefan Fröhlich from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg advocated in his presentation that the role of civil society in Europe only gained importance after the epochal events of 1989/90. The critical, if not even negative, attitude vis-à-vis the European integration process until the present day can also be referred back to the widely perceived distance between EU institutions and the European people. This was reflected, according to Prof. Fröhlich, in the refusal to accept the European Constitution in 2005. In light of these problems, he further highlights the distinct learning potential for Europe that radiates from the bottom-up development of civil societal engagement in West Africa since the 90s.

Additionally, Prof. Abderrahmane Ngaidé from the Université Cheick Anta Diop in Dakar assessed the importance of cultural diversity for regional integration in West Africa. From his perspective, the historical experiences of the region with its historical kingdoms and diverse governance-styles existing in harmony or at least compatibly, are proof of the fact that the perceived ethnic fault lines of today do not represent an insurmountable hurdle for regional integration. Instead as in the past, cultural diversity ought to be used positively in order to achieve the proclaimed goal of an “ECOWAS of the People”.

3857Finally, Prof. Manuel Guilherme Junior in his position as Director of the Centre of Studies on Regional Integration and SADC Law in Maputo, Mozambique, presented a supplementary comparative perspective. In his presentation about the challenges for integration in Southern Africa, he suggested that while the ECOWAS region recently introduced a Customs Union, this step in integration is missing within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) due to the multiple memberships of its constituent members. Against this background, the creation of a so-called Tripartite Free Trade Agreement is about to be implemented which not only includes SADC, but furthermore the members of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Eastern African Community (EAC).

The workshop was part of the research- and consultation project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe”, a cooperation between WAI and ZEI. The cooperative research- and consultation project is supported and financed by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) over the years 2012 until 2016. It has been identified as a beacon project in the thematic areas of Education and Transformation in the framework of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy . The next workshop will take place in Praia in March 2015.

The papers of the conference will be published as WAI-ZEI papers subsequent to the conference. To date, 19 WAI-ZEI Paper and three Regional Integration Observer (RIO) are available for download. Further aspects of the project include the established WAI library in Praia as well as the envisaged establishment of a special Master Program in African Regional Integration , in close cooperation with the National University of Cabo Verde (UNI CV). The Master Program represents a substantial achievement in the advancement of educational opportunities in scientific and practical education in the field of regional integration for the whole West Africa. It is currently undergoing evaluation process via the UNI CV governance structures.



5th WAI-ZEI Meeting of the Study Groups in March 2014 (Avignon)

What next for EU-Africa relations?

Dieng“We are all developing countries in transition”, with these words, Prof. Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt, Director of the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) in Bonn, opened the 4th WAI-ZEI Study Group Meeting at the University of Avignon from 27-28 March 2014. He pledged for Africa and Europe to become learning communities, reflecting and learning from each other in order to gain new perspectives about bi-regional relations. Prof. Dr. Djénéba Traoré, Director of the West Africa Institute in Praia, Cape Verde (WAI), considered quality education as the key development challenge for Africa and urged the two regions to focus on win-win opportunities within the partnership. Prof. Samuel Priso-Essawe, University of Avignon, further added that the challenge of EU-Africa relations would be the disconnection of Africa to European societies as well as to its own interests, highlighting  the need for African governments to reconnect with civil society and the private sector in order to define external interests, or, as Dr. Félix N‘zué, Director of the Economic Policy Analysis Unit of the ECOWAS Commission, Nigeria, put it: “Africa needs a EU strategy”.

Shortly before the 4th EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, the workshop did not only provide academics and practitioners with the opportunity to develop fresh perspectives and practical solutions for the bi-regional partnership, but also highlighted the untapped value-added of regional integration efforts. The workshop particularly focused on comparative academic work in the EU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the fields of technology and innovation, energy and natural resources, as well as competition and regulatory policies for integrating trade in the service sector.

“Liberalisation does not equal deregulation. Instead, a liberalised market requires more regulatory efforts” highlighted ZEI Director Prof. Christian König in the specialised session on competition and regulatory policies. As private investors seek profits at supply bottlenecks, high prices can be good a indicator for mono- or oligopolistic market structures and, possibly, overregulation. Nevertheless, effective regulation in African markets is often contradicted by the lack of adequate data, lack of political will to implement existing regulations and the lack of regulatory monitoring by an independent judiciary. Further points of discussion within the research group on “Economic integration and regional trade” were the costs and benefits of service trade liberalization (which account for 60% of global GDP), adequate techniques and geographic modes (unilateral, bilateral, regional, bi-regional, multinational and plurilateral) to negotiate their liberalization, as well as the need to harmonize sectoral data to facilitate research and knowledge-based decision-making. There was a wide consensus among participants and guests that the sequencing of regulatory policies plays an important role, as otherwise domestic production risks to be replaced by foreign providers.

IMG 3908In the context of the research area on „Regional Integration and Policy Formulation Processes“, the challenges of regional energy policy as well as a regional policy for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) were discussed. One aspect of particular relevance was the use of regulatory and fiscal measures to support the implementation of policy goals. As a major obstacle, participants defined a lack of awareness for regulatory policies, e.g. the ECOWAS Energy Protocol, that are already existing in the region. This lack of awareness not only causes frictions between member states but also increases the costs of cross-border energy transport and contains investors. Against this background, it the case was made for an intensive awareness raising campaign. Comparing West Africa and Europe, it was argued that specific, tailor-made state-aid measures may also support development of technologies in West Africa in some cases. However, it was also warned to just copy the European approach of fiscal measures in the energy sector to other regions. The bi-regional energy relationship between Europe and West Africa was presented as increasingly interdependent. Also under the impression of the Crimean Crisis, it was plead for a reinvention of the political relationship of the two regions, which could also contribute to a further diversification of Europe´s energy supply. Furthermore, participants criticized the poor regional coordination in the field of STI in West Africa. As in other policy fields, in spite of far-reaching and ambitious goals, an adequate implementation of these goals is often missing. Therefore, a “Unified System of Innovation” was urged, in which STI would acknowledged as equal components of regional and national economic policies in Africa. 

The workshop was part of the research and consulting project “Sustainable Regional Integration in West Africa and Europe”, a co-operation of ZEI and the West Africa Institute in Praia, Cape Verde. The WAI-ZEI cooperation project is financed by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the years 2012-2016 as one of the lighthouse projects in transformation and education of the Ministry’s Africa Strategy. The next workshop will take place in September 2014.

The conference paper will be published as WAI-ZEI Papers in the course of the next months. Up to now, ten WAI-ZEI Papers and three Regional Integration Observers (RIO) were edited and are available for download here. Further aspects of the project are the establishment of a library of WAI in Praia and the elaboration of a specific Master Program in African Regional Integration in cooperation with the University of Cape Verde (UNI CV).



WAI-ZEI Research Project: Mid-Term Conference October 2013 (Praia)

Science meets practice: The results of the WAI-ZEI Mid-Term Conference

Mid Term Confe Essien“We still have a way to go to make regional integration more effective, but the process is irreversible. This should be recognized”. With these words, Essien Abel Essien, the director of the Strategic Planning Unit in the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja highlighted the underlying dynamics of the integration process in West Africa during his presentation at the WAI-ZEI Mid-Term Conference from 21-23 at the Ministry for External Relations (MIREX) in Praia. The conference marked the end of the first phase of the research cooperation WAI and ZEI conduct in the years 2012-2016 which is conducted with the support of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Mid term con group2The main topics of the event, the record of regional integration in West Africa and the future of European-West African relations were chosen timely given the anniversaries of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS in 2013 (20 years), of WAEMU in 2014 (20 years), of ECOWAS in 2015 (40 years) and the preparations for the Europe-Africa Summit in April 2014. ECOWAS encompasses 15 Member States with a population of over 350 Mio. people.

In the filled conference room of MIREX, researchers from both regions intensively debated on the achievements and the challenges of political, economic and legal regional integration in West Africa. There was a wide consensus among participants and guests that the legal enforcement mechanisms and the sensitization of the region´s citizens for their human and economic rights have to be further enhanced. Experts argued that Member States have to learn to stick to regional rules as it lies in their own longer-term benefit. 

The “ECOWAS Rice Initiative” was discussed in the economic sphere as an example for a successful regional policy approach as well as the problems of the free circulation of persons and goods. A further intervention touched the problem of a West African energy policy. There are large potentials of fossil and of renewable energy resources in the region as a whole but unfortunately they either remain untapped or are disconnected across borders. The lack of legal frameworks and effective governance impedes the private sector from investing more in the energy sector.Mid term con2

The crucial role of security as a precondition for development and the value that a regional approach can add in this field was another topic. Furthermore, the Director General of the Cape Verdean Ministry for Rural Development, Carla Helena Tavares, explained to the audience the challenges of a regional agricultural policy taking the example of Cape Verde.

Two days before the meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Dakar, Senegal, to agree on the implementation of a Common External Tariff (CET) in the whole ECOWAS region, researchers analyzed its possible effects on intra-regional trade and also on the trade relationship with Europe and the ongoing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) negotiations.

Prof. Tony Chafer and Ed Stoddard from the University of Portsmouth showed in their presentation that the legitimacy European foreign policy is striving for, in particular towards Africa, can often be undermined by its vested security or economic interests. This obvious contradiction was also part of the discussion of the policy recommendations for a more balanced West-Africa EU partnership in the future. The working sessions was focused on finding ways to fill the idea of an equal partnership with life and to create situations of mutual benefit. The two regions come from different starting points but share common interests. Therefore it was recommended that the partners should exchange more especially culturally and in the education and academic sector and to avoid mutual blockade because of existing prejudices. The conference was an example of an honest exchange of opinions and approaches in order to increase mutual understanding. Against this background the recommendations that were formulated will be sent to decision makers on both sides as a unique contribution of academics and practitioners from West Africa and Europe.Mid-term-con4

Furthermore, the conference offered the opportunity to exchange on other pressing problems in Africa like migration, brain drain and others.

The WAI-ZEI cooperation will publish the conference paper in as a WAI-ZEI Paper in early 2014. Up to now, nine WAI-ZEI Papers and two Regional Integration Observers (RIO) were edited and are available for download here. Further aspects of the project are the conduct of monitoring measures, the establishment of a library of WAI in Praia and the elaboration of a specific Master Program in African Regional Integration in cooperation with the University of Cape Verde (UNI CV). Following its comprehensive research manual, the cooperation will now enter into its second phase with its next workshop taking place in Avignon in March 2014.


WAI-ZEI Meeting of the Study Groups in March 2013 (Bonn)

Crises in Mali and Europe emphasize the need for bi-regional cooperation
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 “The crisis in Mali marks an important watershed. Europeans must start to see Africa and Europe as intertwined because the challenges of the continent are not only linked to each other but also to the fate of Europe“, Professor Ludger Kühnhardt, Managing Director of ZEI, said during the opening of the second study group meeting within the cooperation of the West Africa Institute (WAI) in Praia, Cape Verde, and ZEI, which took place from 11th to 12th of March in Bonn. The WAI-ZEI research cooperation is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) during the years 2012-2016.

Professor Djénéba Traoré, Managing Director of WAI, stressed particularly the important role of strong and efficient institutions: “The crisis in Mali was – inter alia – triggered by weak, governmental institutions. Cooperation in terms of regional integration can strengthen these institutions and, thus, prevent crises.” WAI is promoted by UNESCO, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), ECOBANK and the Cape Verdean government.

On the basis of the European integration experience, both institutes want to contribute to a more efficient and knowledge-based decision-making process in West African regional integration through profoundly conducting research and analysis. In contrast to Europe, a structured, critical assessment of regional decision-making processes, conducted by academics and experts from the West African region is missing so far.

“It is important to see elaborated plans put into practice”, underlined Sabrina Legis from the International Office of DLR, the responsible implementing agency of BMBF. The joint WAI-ZEI project would be particularly innovative as it not only supports important academic insights but also creates sustainable structures by the mutual exchange of academics and personnel in the long-term.

In the context of the discussions on the political challenges, academics detected that the political will alone is not enough to make regional integration processes efficient and sustainable but that there is also a need for improved governance on a national level, independent regional institutions as well as cooperation with transnational interest groups of civil society, private companies and the diaspora. “The majority of crossbDSC 3050 smallorder exchange in West Africa is informal. This clearly illustrates the sleeping potential of regional integration” said Prof. João Resende-Santos of the University of Cape Verde. The question whether differentiated integration can be a tool for regional integration or if different speeds and modes of integration rather support fragmentation remained disputed.

Differentiated integration processes also play an important role regarding monetary integration. Important issues during the discussion were the role of WAEMU and the question of a stabilizing anchor for monetary credibility. Further issues were the regional dominance of France and Nigeria, the (disputed) necessity of incomplete contracts for flexible reactions to crises and the immaterial dimension of financial integration. “The current development status of West Africa is often seen as a disadvantage but might be in fact an advantage in regard to monetary integration”, said Professor Diery Seck, Director of the Centre for Research on Political Economy (CREPOL) in Dakar, Senegal.

First results of the WAI-ZEI research cooperation are the jointly published WAI-ZEI Papers on intra-regional trade in West Africa and on the comparative analysis of regional institutions and policy formulation processes in ECOWAS, the EU and ASEAN. The meeting was closed with a public panel discussion on “Perspectives on the Malian Crisis: Background and future lessons for Europe and West Africa” at Deutsche Welle which was attended by numerous researchers and journalists of both regions.

The Bonn workshop was the second of eight meetings in the context of the WAI-ZEI cooperation. The next meeting will take place in October 2013 in Praia.


WAI-ZEI Meeting of the Study Groups in October 2012 (Praia)

Sustaining Regional Integration Through Research and Analysis

“We have to know our realities before we will be able to change them”. By referring to this guiding principle, José Brito, the chairman of the board of the West Africa Institute (WAI) and former Foreign Minister of Cape Verde opened the first study meeting, organized from 1-2 October 2012 by WAI and the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) in Bonn at the venue of WAI in Praia, Cape Verde. The WAI-ZEI research cooperation is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) during the years 2012-2016.

On the basis of the European integration experience, both institutes want to contribute to a more efficient and knowledge-based decision-making process in West African regional integration through profoundly conducted research and analysis. “Our common interest in this partnership is rooted in the goal of mutual learning, exchange and a good neighborly relationship”, said Prof. Ludger Kühnhardt, the Managing Director of WAI. “We want to share the experience of both centers to create a network of currently unconnected academic communities from our two regions”, Prof. John Igue, WAI´s General Manager, added. WAI is promoted by UNESCO, the West African regional communities WAEMU and ECOWAS, ECOBANK and by the Cape Verdean government, which was represented at the opening ceremony by its Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. José Luis Rocha. Dr. Rocha emphasized the interest of Cape Verde to integrate deeper into the West African community also through the work of WAI: “For us, regional integration is not only a political choice but an opportunity”.

Against this background, WAI and ZEI brought together an interdisciplinary group of renowned scholars from West African and European universities and research centers. According to a research manual, developed by WAI and ZEI for the period 2012-2016, the academics presented research findings on questions of policy formulation processes and regional trade in West Africa.

on the one hand, it was discussed which theoretical approaches should be applied to transparently and efficiently grasp regional integration developments in both regions. On the other hand, it was asked which practical shortcomings exist on the European and on the West African side. “At the moment, the regional integration process in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is neither inclusive nor is it efficiently coordinated among regional institutions and between regional institutions and the Member States. We can learn from the institutional setup of the EU on the working-level”, said Prof. Olusegun Omisakin from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. “We have a lack of common political will for regional political solutions in West Africa because our economic interdependence is comparatively low”, added Prof. Kocra Assoua from the University of Bayreuth in Germany. In the sphenews 191212 02re of monetary policy formulation, it was made clear that currently European countries have as serious problems to stick to the convergence criteria they agreed upon as have the Member States of the West African Monetary Zone (WAEMU).

With regard to economic integration, scholars particularly recommended to focus on research questions that go beyond conventional wisdom about the shortcomings of regional trade in West Africa. “Research on economic measures is useful when it finds out, if these measures have had their intended positive effect or not”, argued Prof. Volker Nitsch from the University of Darmstadt. With regard to the external influences on regional trade, the problems of colonial heritage were highlighted. At the same time, it was concluded that the leverage of the EU in Africa continues being reduced due to new geopolitical dynamisms and the role of new emerging powers.

The final results of the debates in the two research areas will be published as papers on the web pages of both institutes at the beginning of 2013. The meeting was closed with a public panel discussion with students and Cape Verdean stakeholders at the Jean Piaget University in Praia on the topic: “The European Crisis: Consequences and Lessons Learned for Africa”.

The Praia workshop was the first of eight meetings in the context of the WAI-ZEI cooperation. The next meeting will take place in March 2013 in Bonn. Other elements of the cooperation include the installation of databases, the development of specific evaluation tools on regional integration in West Africa and the support of the establishment for a West African Master Program in this sphere. The BMBF is supporting this project with an overall amount of 1.4 Mio. €.


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