Yohane Mbeeya Moono
Africa is a continent of 54 countries with the Western Sahara trying to gain independence from Morocco. On this vast continent of 54 countries, there is an idea of the Regional Economic Communities that makes a lot of good sense. These Regional Economic Communities from a Diplomacy point of view should form the building blocks of an integrated African Union. If they are working optimally these Communities would efficiently and effectively deal with the cross-border concerns among African Union member states, developmental and Economic issues that the continent is grappling with, take a very proactive stance on many developmental projects in Africa.
The African Continent has 8 Regional Economic Communities which means that most countries are a part of more than one bloc. Does this lead to divided loyalty and weakens the functioning of the African Union? The Regional Economic Communities include SouthernAfricanDevelopmentCommunity(SADC), Economic Commision Of West African Staes (ECOWAS),East African Community (EAC),Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) ,Community of Sahel-Sahara States (CEN-SAD),Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) among others. Looking at the African economies and the state of development in the African countries, can States with limited resources participate fully in more than one African Multilateral Institution? For example, the Southern African Development Community has in the last two years been grappling with insurgency in the Northern part of Mozambique which has destabilized the country. Do country in the region have the capacity to fight the insurgency? Or they will need the services of the African Union in fighting the Insurgency?
For their part Regional Economic Communities is to ensure and facilitate intra-Africa trade but the members belonging to more than one bloc have more obligations to fulfill. The Regional Economic Communities in most instances have not helped countries realise the reason for the establishment of these Communities. Current the African Union struggles to get member states to pay the annual fees and yet many African States are so eager to get into more than one Regional Economic Community. This is seriously derailing the progress of the Continental bloc. The financial challenges that many African countries are grappling should be reason enough to many countries on the continent that joining more Regional Economic Communities is not the answer. It is really sad to note that most countries have understaffed embassies, as well as having little diplomatic representation at the Regional Economic Communities headquarters. This has also hampered the implementation of many summit decisions due not having enough Human Resources to driven the decisions taken in the summits. Therefore, there is need to improving staffing at the embassies and building capacity in the human resources in the embassies in order to implement the summit decisions.
Africa as of 2018, enacted the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which represents the biggest trade Agreement after the World Trade Organization agreement. However, this agreement is not being fully implemented because some member states of the Regional Economic Communities have not yet ratified the Agreements in their countries. This is hindering the answer to some of the economic challenges that have long beseeched the African Continent. African countries need to look to the future and realise that having so many obligations through membership to so many Regional Economic Communities is only stretching their limited resources. But rather, the countries should look to strengthen the Continental bloc by supporting the Agenda of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
The African Union for its part need to come up with clear policy direction regarding the membership to the Regional Economic Communities in order to maximize efficiency more especially of the Continental bloc. Policy Direction is the tool that the African Union needs to use to improve efficiency because these Regional Economic Communities risk lobbying the African Union of its purpose
Not Until African Countries have enough resources to support their membership in more than one Regional Economic Community should they be allowed to join more than one bloc. For now, joining more than one Regional Economic Community is contributing to the inefficiency of the African Union