New Regionalism in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Means to Attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and to Legitimate Democratic Governments

The regional integration process in Africa is increasingly becoming an indispensable instrument in the promotion of domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) and as a means for the legitimization of the fragile nascent democratic government, which are slowly and painfully being put in place all over the continent. The achievement of these policy objectives for sub-Saharan African countries requires the identification and formation of clear priorities and strategies whose implementation should be feasible, effective and supported by strong political will, if the regional integration failures of the past fifty years of African independence have to be avoided. The key strategies and priorities seem to be based on a belief that the harmonization of regional policies and infrastructures projects of all kinds constitutes the very foundation of a regional integration. According to this belief, these projects are considered to be instrumental and conducive to increased market openness and capital inflows, which in turn could act to stimulate trade among states, the movement of workers and the intermingling of people and cultures. As a result, peace and harmony is maintained within the integrated region. It therefore suggest that the effective implementation of these strategies and priorities, combined with domestic policy reforms would necessarily attract increased regional and foreign direct investment given the continent’s rich endowment in natural and human resources. The study examines this basic tenet of regional integration process in Africa and argues that the African political leaders most threatened by integration will be very unwilling to face a successful integration outcome. Hence, it will be up to the international community to support the reforms efforts of these leaders and to help overcome their resistance. Furthermore, the author suggests that the conciliation between the suppression of trade obstacles (economic reforms) and democratization in these countries (political reforms) is the most significant action which bilateral and multilateral financial backers can do to support the recovery of the continent.

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