The Conference, which is organised every three years, was attended by 350 scholars, academics and researchers and focused on Social Sciences and Humanities in Africa and its Diaspora. Delegates from different African countries, Europe, the United States, China, Asia, the Middle East and South America presented papers on the overarching theme, Africa and the Crisis of Globalization.
Vhumbunu’s paper examined African regional integration since decolonisation, and its evolution and dynamics against the background of intensified globalisation. It also critically analysed the complexities associated with the pursuit of African regional economic integration whilst taking stock of the challenges and successes, as well as progress thus far.
‘Whilst successes have been recorded around the three key pillars of regional economic integration, namely Trade and Market Integration, Infrastructure Integration, and Industrial Integration/Industrialisation, there is an urgent need to address issues relating to, among others, continental leadership; institutional capacity development; governance of natural resources extraction; regional infrastructure development; industrialisation and productive capacity building; design of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements; policy regulation and harmonisation; and creating a conducive environment for business,’ said Vhumbunu.
He believes that this would accelerate the achievement of regional economic integration targets, objectives and milestones on the continent embodied in the Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa (1980) and the Abuja Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (1991).
‘I am grateful to CODESRIA for funding my attendance at the conference,’ said Vhumbunu. ‘My participation was valuable for networking, and exchanging knowledge and ideas on the thematic areas of focus with fellow participants from all over the world, and also ensured UKZN’s continued presence and involvement at high profile platforms for academic and policy engagement.’