3rd Annual Garnet Conference: Mapping Integration and Regionalism in a Global World, September 2008
tralac participated in the 3rd Annual GARNET Conference hosted by the University of Bordeaux from 17-19 September 2008, under the theme Mapping Integration and Regionalism in a Global World: The EU and Regional Governance Outside the EU. Professor Colin McCarthy presented a paper at this conference during Panel IV-2: Monetary and Financial Governance, entitled The Roadmap towards Monetary Union in Southern Africa – is the European experience commendable and replicable?
Europe has set the world a commendable example of integration, both in expanding its membership and in deepening integration. This experience has not gone unnoticed in Africa. In fact, the experience of progressive European integration, culminating in the establishment of the Euro Zone in January 1999 and the introduction of the single currency in January 2000, is often propagated as a role model, specifically also as far as monetary union is concerned. When the African Union was launched, officials specifically referred to Europe’s monetary integration and envisaged a common currency for Africa akin to the Euro.
At times the impression also exist that Europe, or at least some European Union representatives, regard its integration experience, including monetary union, as an exportable model, something that can and should be replicated in other regional groupings. The question, however, is whether it is appropriate to follow Europe and adopt what can be described as the Vinerian linear model of regional market integration in African regional economic integration. Is a comparison of the challenges, circumstances and experience of integration in Africa and Europe valid and relevant?
The paper addresses this question in a reconsideration of the political economy of regional integration in southern African. The focus falls on the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the broadest, albeit not the deepest regional integration arrangement (RIA) in the sub-continent, and the destination of a monetary union set up as a final goal for SADC.
It should be emphasised that the paper does not rigorously follow a route informed by the literature on optimum currency areas, although some elements of this approach will be adopted. The intention is rather to highlight the process incorporated in a roadmap of linear integration which envisages a monetary union and the adoption of single currency a decade from now.