Accepted paper:

We choose our partners: Africa's new internationalism and the IPE of regional economic integration


Rita Kiki Edozie (University of Massachusetts Boston)

Paper short abstract:

The AUC Chair, M. Mahamat, stated, stop this stereotypical idea of Africa as a hapless terrain where Europe or China has free rein! We choose our partnerships. To this end, the paper captures a global order where Africa struggles for equality using the AfCFTA to change the global political economy.

Paper long abstract:

A stern warning by the African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, to the European Union, proclaimed that the world should, "Stop this stereotypical idea of Africa as a hapless terrain where Europe, China or others have free rein to battle for influence! We choose our partnerships, and create conditions based on mutual interest and benefit". The statement captures the complexity of a global order in which developing world regions struggle for equality and recognition in the transaction of international relations. The current paper uses Africa's newly ratified Continental Free Trade Act (AfCFTA) to examine the continent's sustained but changing struggle to reverse its peripheral positioning in the global political economy. The AU's AfCFTA is a pan African economic institution through which the AU engages the international political economy. The AU uses pan African economic policy as strategies to engage the continent's political economic relations with China, the EU, the US, and the global economy. As Mahamat's states, the AU strategically chooses its partners in a multipolar world be it the West or China, but differently from the old neo-colonialist dependent partnership; in a multiplex world, the AU insists on equitable and mutually beneficial partnerships. To this end, global power competition for trade in Africa need not be seen as a neocolonial scramble; but rather an instance of the AU's new Pan African economic restructuring to represents the continent's own socially constructed economic imaginaries and aspirations and capacities to co-produce global development for Africans on their own terms.

panel H2
Rethinking Africa's development in today's globalised world [paper]