The African Continental Free Trade Area: Reflections of an International Trade Law Student (Part 3) by Prosper Batariwah

What lessons can Africa learn from the European Union?

In the last article, I recounted the formation and gains of the European Union. Now I conclude by making a few reflections about the lessons Africa can learn from the European Union.

First, there is the need for Africans to learn how to live together and as one people. There must be inter-communality between states and intra-communality amongst persons living in states. The European Union succeeded because countries were ready to forgive one another and move on after the World Wars. The European Union has often been seen as a champion of democracy and good governance because the presence of democracy and good governance provides strong institutions which make implementation of policies in any country easier.  Africa, to attract investment, must ensure that there is a stable political climate in the region.

Second, African states must be ready to cede a part of their sovereignty in order to ensure that the AfCFTA becomes a success. The European Union was successful because it believed first in the concept of collective interests, second in the relevance of supranational organizations as means of securing these collective interests and third in strong political will, dedication and perseverance. Africa has got to do the same. Countries have to negotiate and determine their collective interest. The AfCFTA framework ought to be seen by countries as binding on them. Countries in Africa have got to look at the bigger and brighter picture and pursue it. For it is no rocket science that the success of AfCFTA, as the EU, depends entirely on political will.

Africa can change its fortunes around if it puts its mind to it. AfCFTA is new and the speculations are many. Let’s watch and see how it turns out.