Examining the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for regional integration in Africa
Keywords:Africa integration, Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 effects, rational actor choice, regional integration
The covid-19 pandemic has had effect on all facets of human life. Regional integration is no exception. Meanwhile, regional integration has been largely held as one of the most feasible avenues for developing countries to achieve prosperity. This paper examines why African states took decisions that were in violation of regional integration protocols when faced with the covid-19 scourge. Four policy briefs about the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on regional integration in Africa were analysed using the qualitative content analysis method. The findings were interpreted through the lens of a rationalist actor choice model. The study found that state actors in Africa took decisions that broke regional integration protocols. These decisions were the result of severe limitations imposed by the pandemic against the desire of actors to maximise interests. The findings contradict a popular view expressed by the authors of the policy briefs who appeared to portray deliberate actions on the part of state actors to impose border closures and trade restrictions. The pandemic has unveiled a reality in the risk of overrating how far states can go in their search for integration. States as rational actors will always choose survival over loyalty. State actors would need to exercise more caution in their commitment to regional integration regimes.
Adler, K. (2020). Coronavirus: Are EU divisions banished after the deal. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52226767
Alden, C. (2017). Critiques of the rational actor model and foreign policy decision making. LSE Research Online. https://eprints.lse.ac.uk/84466/1/Alden_Critiques%20of%20rational%20actor_2017.pdf
Elo, S., Kaariainen, M., Kanste, O., Polkki1, T., Utriainen, K., & Kyngas, H. (2014). Qualitative content analysis: A focus on trustworthiness. SAGE Open, (January-March), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244014522633
Gondwe, G. (2020). Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s economic development. UNCTAD/ALDC/MISC/2020/3.https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/aldcmisc2020d3_en.pdf
Kalinina, A. (2020). What the world can learn from regional responses to COVID-19. World Economic Forum.https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/COVID-19-what-the-world-can-learn-from-regional-responses/
Kassa, W. (2020). COVID-19 and trade in SSA: Impacts and policy response. Africa Knowledge in Time Policy Brief, 1(1). https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/33841/COVID-19-and-Trade-in-SSA-Impacts-and-Policy-Response.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Kimura, F., Mugan, S., Dionisius, T. N., & Findlay, C. (2020). Pandemic policy: Regional cooperation and the emerging global production network. Asian Economic Journal 34(1), 3–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/asej.12198
Lemmon, G. T. (2020). COVID-19's threat to European unity. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/07/opinions/european-union-COVID-19-threat-unity-lemmon/index.html
Horowit, J. (2020). The EU is still divided over coronavirus relief: That could tear it apart. CNN Business.https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/26/economy/europe-coronavirus-budget/index.html
McNamara, J., Robinson, J. Z. E., Abernethy, K., Iponga, D. M., Sackey, H. N. K., Wright, J. H., & Milner‑Gulland, J. E. (2020). COVID‑19: Systemic crisis and possible implications for the wild meat trade in Sub‑Saharan Africa. Environmental and Resource Economics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-020-00474-5
Medinilla, A., Byiers, B., & Apiko, P. (2020, May 18). African regional response to COVID-19. Edcpm Discussion Paper 272. https://ecdpm.org/publications/african-regional-responses-COVID-19/
Morsy, H., Salami, A., & Mukasa, A. (2020). Opportunities amid COVID-19: Advancing intra-African food integration. Africa Economic Brief, 11(4).
Mupotola, M. (2020, May 27). COVID-19 presents unique opportunities to speed up Africa’s integration agenda and implementation of AfCFTA. African Development Bank Group. https://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/interviews/COVID-19-presents-unique-opportunities-speed-africas-integration-agenda-and-implementation-afcfta-35820
Owusu, N. 1. (2020). Africa: COVID-19 and the future of economic integration. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3607305
Roller, M. R. (2019). A quality approach to qualitative content analysis: Similarities and differences compared to other qualitative methods. FQS, 20(3) https://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.3.3385
Steiner, J. (1990). Rational choice theories and politics: A research agenda and a moral question. Political Science and Politics. 23(1), 46-50.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. (2019). Africa regional integration index report. https://www.uneca.org/publications/africa-regional-integration-index-report-2019
Vergine, S. (2020). Coronavirus: Are Italians losing faith in the EU. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52666870
Wetzel, D. (2020). Pandemics know no borders: In Africa, regional collaboration is key to fighting COVID-19. worldbank.org. https://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/pandemics-know-no-borders-africa-regional-collaboration-key-fighting-COVID-19
Wilkinson, N. (2020). Lockdown without borders: Regional integration and the AfCFTA can drive Africa’s COVID-19 response. International Growth Centre. https://www.theigc.org/blog/lockdown-without-borders-regional-integration-and-the-afcfta-can-drive-africas-COVID-19-response/
Yoshimichi, S. (2013). Rational choice theory. Sociopedia.isa. https://doi.org/10.1177/205684601372
How to Cite
This open-access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.
You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
No additional restrictions You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.