The Evolution of African Regional Organizations

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The Evolution of African Regional Organizations

Background and Scope

In the Spring of 2023, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University in Qatar will be launching a new research project under the intellectual lead of Professor Lynda Chinenye Iroulo, Assistant Professor at GUQ. The project aims to study and introduce the role and functions of the African regional organizations (African ROs). Research and teaching of African regional organizations are rising, bringing interesting perspectives to research on African ROs. However, no extensive work exists in the current literature that provides a good introduction and overview of the evolution of regional organizations on the continent.

The African ROs to be studied under this project include the African Union and the eight regional economic communities: Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Southern African Development Community (SADC). The evolution of the Afro-Arab region, relations with other external organizations, and the relationship between these ROs within and without will also be explored and addressed.

While research on African regionalism has increasingly become prominent and a center of interest for scholars, the field has yet to comprehensively set the foundations of African regional integration. Mazzeo’s edited volume on African Regional Organisations in 1984 was one attempt at tracing these foundations. However, for the past 38 years, the regional landscape has evolved with expanded mandates and new institutions. Building on previous work done by CIRS, this project will not only provide a comprehensive study of African IOs but will also expand on present theoretical analyses in the field. The focus of the initiative will be to cover the economic communities across the continent, including North Africa, and falls under CIRS’s regional studies research cluster.

To commence work on the project, a research workshop will be hosted by CIRS in January 2023, where convened scholars will discuss written contributions on these regional organizations, covering their ideational origins, organizational designs, the scope of work, achievements, and future directions. CIRS will publish the outcome of the project as an edited volume, which will be the first single comprehensive compilation on African regional organizations in the 21st century.


Project Contributors

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African Policy Initiative

African Policy Initiative is a Berlin-based non-profit organisation, made up of a group of African researchers across the globe. The forum utilises a public platform to present insightful discussions on Africa to audiences in Germany, Africa and around the world. It commenced its activities in February 2018.  The goal of the initiative is to adopt a bottom-up approach to dealing with challenges facing the continent. This approach constitutes engaging analysts by fostering dialogue about Africa which will culminate into feasible policy strategies.


Faculty Lead

Lynda Chinenye Iroulo 
Assistant Professor at GU-Q


The featured image for the project was designed by CIRS Student Assistant, Dalva Raposo (Class of ’24)