Changing economic balances and integration in `Africa rising' by Mathekga, Ralph
Real African Publishers Pty Ltd, 01 September 2017
Most of the African continent has, over the past two decades, experienced high rates of economic growth. Analysis of that phenomenon has focused mainly on the reasons behind that welcome surge, the impact it has had on people's quality of life, and the extent of regional and continent-wide integration. This study examines some of those issues and seeks to interrogate the changing African landscape from the point of view of how those dynamics intersect with the notion of changing economic power balances and the implications those may have for the continent. The attempt to examine a path that is hardly trodden was triggered partly by the efforts that were reaching fruition at the turn of the decade to rebase Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), resulting in the country emerging, reportedly by 2011, as the largest economy on the continent. By 2016, Egypt was reported to have overtaken South Africa into second spot. Related to that were, and are, the galloping economies of Ethiopia, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cote d'Ivoire and others, which seem to be reconfiguring economic power also within their regions. In history, the emergence of a new power - perceived as a challenge to the extant dominant one - has almost always generated new and intensified competition. At worst, it has spawned tensions and even wars. That, some historians postulate, is a function of human nature. But is it? The authors examine elements of that history and attempt to answer that question as it applies to Africa, particularly in the context of successes and failures at regional integration. Dynamics in each of Africa's regions are examined in detail. The focus on cooperation and integration within and across the regions is deliberate. The authors proceed from the premise that Africa's advancement depends on the pooling of sovereignties. Besides, they acknowledge that Africa's borders are artificial, and many of its nation states are patchworks of the carving pens of colonial Europe's Berlin Conference in the 1880s. This book also deals with generic questions about the notion of `Africa Rising' and the place of the continent in the global economy. The critique of that notion raises fundamental questions about political and economic governance and the appropriation of national income. The salutary lesson in that regard is that optimism should be tempered, and it should be undergirded by social agency.