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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter presents an overview of empirical evidence and debate on African regionalism and regionalization since the early 1990s. From a comparative perspective the probably most puzzling aspect of African regionalism is the continuing gap between the ambition, innovation, and multiplication of state-led regionalism and the lack of broader societal engagement with these projects. While the various theoretical approaches presented offer different explanations for this paradox, the growing differentiation of domestic structures and state–society interactions across the continent makes any generalization about African regionalism, its main drivers or effects problematic. Globalization and external drivers are certainly important for understanding regional cooperation. But it is political and social change in African states which explains primarily why state-led regionalism moves towards more legitimate projects of region-building with a broader set of objectives in some parts of the continent, while it remains a shallow façade for rent-seeking in others.

Keywords: regionalism, regionalization, sub-Saharan Africa, rent-seeking, regional cooperation

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