The end of colonization led to a 'freezing' of African state boundaries. However, there seems to be a trend in the continent and elsewhere towards the creation of new political entities. Can the 'exit option' be the solution for Africa's current political and economic challenges?
The academic and policy debate on secession reaches back at least to the early 1960s, when the newly-founded Organisation of African Unity set as one of its main goals, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of African states. Ever since, and with the advent of the African Union, there has been a lot of discussion on whether Africa's main objectives, namely the promotion of peace and security, the protection of human rights and the continent's integration into the global economy, can be achieved in parallel with the respect of the 'frozen' boundaries of the postcolonial era. Until recently, this issue was considered to be a 'hot potato', backed by the fears of the international community that it would open up a Pandora's box. However, the cases of South Sudan and the successful experiment with Somaliland, together with increasing discussions in Europe over the possible independence of Scotland and even Catalonia, has brought the issue of secession and separatism back into the limelight. The question is whether we are before a rearrangement of the political global order and an upset of the status quo and whether Africa could already be at the forefront of the formation of that emerging global order. The timing seems perfect to start talking about the creation of new political entities, better suited to promote the continent's long-standing aims and their citizens' interests, to explore whether secession is the key to unlocking Africa's potential.