|Expansion of the European Union: Implications for Africa (and other regions)
|| PRINTABLE VERSION
May 1, 2004 was a significant day for Europe. With the admission of 10 new countries into the European Union (EU), the world’s largest trading bloc was established. The EU now brings together over 455 million people in 25 countries. The majority of states accepted in the expansion were formerly Soviet Bloc nations what are now part of a capitalist style economic model. Whilst Europe’s expansion is an exciting and interesting development for Europeans, its impact is not limited to that continent alone. Many regions around the world can learn from this process and be inspired to guide their nations into a similar movement towards meaningful regional integration.
Africa consists of 54 countries. The majority of these countries were once colonized by European countries and over the past 4 decades, many have been working towards development and all round economic and social progress. The challenges faced by each country, and as a result, the continent as a whole, are large. Poverty is by far Africa’s most profound challenge. From it stems a myriad of other problems, including disease, hunger, violence and crime, intrastate conflict, corruption, etc. All of these issues ensure that for the most part, any vision outlined for Africa’s development will need to clear out these cracks from the foundation upon which a prosperous continent can be built.
Each country has within its borders, very diverse peoples, cultures, geographies and many differing realities. Creating unity and a common vision within one country is a challenge in itself. Why then, should there be a focus on regional and continental unity when it is enough of a struggle to create togetherness in just a single country?
Well, there are many ways to respond to that question. But I feel that it is important to focus on that Africa has to gain by working together. Here are just a few ideas of some of the major benefits of an integrated Africa:
1. Africa will be stronger when it consolidates and takes advantage of its economic potential. Most of the world’s raw materials and natural resources are found in Africa in abundance. Economic integration will enable Africa to exploit these resources more efficiently. This can be best achieved with well coordinated economic plans and with nations working together towards meeting economic targets. What Africa needs to do better is positive competition. In other words, they need to develop competitive economies in a way in which they are geared towards the overall economic success of Africa and not to compete against each other.
This is hard to accomplish amongst 50 or so separate countries. However, it is very achievable amongst 50 well-integrated nations. Take the example of the United States of America. In essence, what we have are 50 different countries. A lot of the states produce similar products, which they try and sell within the Union, or internationally. They would most certainly compete against each other were they separate countries, trying to edge each other out to gain access to markets and capital. However, they are all part of a well-coordinated economic plan that brings maximum benefit to the Union and to each state.
2. An integrated Africa will have its destiny more securely in its own hands. Any bloc that can bring together close to 1 billion people and have significant economic muscle (which is currently mostly economic potential) cannot be pushed around on the global arena by other nations and powers. A consolidated Africa will have major assets to boast, will have greater economic and political leverage and will be able to negotiate and push for settlements that are in its favour.
3. No conflict is in Africa’s best interest. This is something that may be seen as somewhat obvious, but with a push towards greater integration, it will become even more evident to African nation in very practical terms that warring neighbours do not create a healthy neighbourhood. This vision was accurately captured by former German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl when he addressed thousands at a ceremony in the German town of Zittau, which borders both Poland and the Czech Republic on expansion day (May1) to mark the official inclusion of 10 new EU member nations. "The message is there will never again be war in Europe," he said. Wouldn’t a similar reality for Africa be ever so welcome?
4. Interdependence is a great driver of democracy, freedom and prosperity when is its acknowledged and accepted. You have little choice but to operate in a way that looks out for those around you when your fate is tightly linked to theirs. Solidarity transforms from just being a nice word to having a deeper meaning. When African tribes were colonized, they realized that it was in their best interests to unite and collaborate rather than to remain divided. This solidarity brought about independence, political independence. Solidarity and interdependence likewise can bring about economic independence, development and progress and to protect this prosperity, countries will have greater reason to correct the shortcomings of others, such as undemocratic practices, failure to stem avoidable crises as well as push for the elimination of counterproductive behaviours such as corruption.
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Africa will be stronger? EKHATOR CHRISTIAN OSAZEE
| May 14th, 2004
"Poverty is by far Africa
homelessnes what can we do odufaderin
| May 22nd, 2004
THE WORLD WE LIVE NOW IS NOW PUTTING EVERY YOUTH AND EVERY MIND INTO A challenging AGE
HOMELESSNESS IS ONE THING I WILL LIKE TO TALK ABOUT NOW FISRT AND FORMOST WHATS IS HOMELESSNESS? THIS IS WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL HAS NO WHERE TO LAY HIS OR HER HEAD WE DISCOVER THAT IN THIS YEARS THAT CHILDREM HAVE BEEN NOT ONLY HOMELESNES BUT ALSO ORPAHNS WHY CAUSE OF WAR TRIBLA CLASHES AND SO... ON
I THINK WE CAN MAKE THIS WORLD A HOME WHEN WE ALL COME TOGHTER TO MAKE THE HOMELESS HAVE SOMEWHERE TO LIVE AND MAKE THEM HAPPY
How about Ethnic Divisions? Olawuyi Olusola Akanbi
| May 26th, 2004
Integrated Africa is not a bad idea but how are we going to tackle bad blood caused by ethnic divisions and crises in our nations and fueled by successive governments?
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