Exploring the citizen inclusiveness and micro-economic empowerment aspects of regional integration in Africa - pg. 91.
A significant number of regional blocs have emerged on the African continent which often cite the liberation of their Members’ citizens from poverty and hardship as one of their main goals. In reality, however, there have been numerous instances where the actions of these groupings and their Members have raised questions about their commitment to the economic emancipation of their citizens, either because they have not followed up on their undertakings or acted contrary to them. There have also been many occasions when the strategies and methods employed by the regional blocs and their Members have cast doubt on the prospects of their professed goals being achieved. This is so because, even where the measures undertaken yield some benefits, the benefits often accrue to big corporations and a small ruling elite, while the vast majority of the population remain excluded and left to fend for themselves. This article draws attention to the persisting neglect of a people centred approach in Africa’s regional integration efforts, focusing on the current poor public participation in the debates and implementation drive, as well as the weak support for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). The article argues that there is a need for a fundamental shift in the continent’s strategy if regional integration is to yield the desired results, with citizens becoming the primary focus of the initiative.