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Borders and Borderlands as Linchpins For Regional Integration in Africa: Lessons of the European Experience

Anthony I. Asiwaju


The purpose of this article is to draw attention to an international economic integration strategy which, while still being ignored by policy makers and planners in Africa, has in recent decades gained in importance and achievements in Europe and is currently being actively recommended for the adoption of governments in North America. Rather than keeping rigidly to the approach whereby development is initiated from the top, usually through the operation of sovereignty-preconditioned mutinational intergovernmental organizations, the new strategy is the effective utilization of micro- or grassroots- level initiatives and their policy potentials; it operates within the framework of the more limited inter-governmental organizations in which local or provincial authorities along international boundaries play key roles as agents of international cooperation. In this new context, the unit of action is not whole continents or their main subregions, as in the case of the more familiar-type multilateral intergovernmental organizations, it is, instead, the border regions or borderlands defined characteristically as the "sub-national areas whose economic and social life is directly and significantly affected by proximity to an international boundary" (Hansen 1981:19).

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229