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Institutional capacities and the challenges of continental integration: a critical study of the African Union Commission as an integrative tool.

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This study sought out to critically examine the African Union Commission (AUC) as an integrative tool in the context of institutional capacities and the challenges of continental integration. This study is an exploratory attempt to determine the capacity of the African Union Commission (AUC) as an organ of the African Union (AU) in facilitating the integration aspirations of African leaders on the continent. Considered a strategic organ of the AU, this study sought to examine the integrative capacity of the AUC, and its ability to sensitise not only African leaders, but also the rich and wealthy Africans notably in the private sector to pool resources together to catalyze the efforts towards integration of the continent. It is worth repeating that the AUC is one of the organs of the African Union (AU) which conducts the administrative affairs of the continental organization. The study was informed by the need to contexualise the dynamism exhibited by the leadership direction of the outgoing Chairperson of the Commission (at the time of this research), Her Excellency, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma wherein considerable attention was drawn to the activities of the AU. The AUC’s engagements with the RECs and its reaching out to both private individuals and institutions for support, has significantly put African affairs in the limelight. To achieve the aim of the study, the researcher drew strength from accessed literature specifically on related studies to be able to provide a justification for the study, and this was further completed with processed data generated from fieldwork. The study employed the qualitative research paradigm in the generation of data and for analysis based on the context and focus of the study. In concluding the study, the researcher made some averments as follows - Firstly, and in reaction to research question one which sought to interrogate the capacity of the African Union Commission (AUC) to facilitate integration agenda of the organization, the researcher avers that the AUC being the implementing organ of the AU’s programmes can deliver more effectively on its mandate if empowered appropriately. Secondly, the study avers that the challenges of corruption, overlapping membership, sit-tightism syndrome, and lack of commitment by African leaders among others, should be addressed and tackled with unwavering commitment and willingness for the aspiration of integration to be fully realized. Thirdly, on whether the sub-regional bodies can provide a platform for the integration agenda of the continent, the researcher contends that the level of successes recorded within each of the regional economic communities is an indication that such can be replicated on the continent. Fourthly, the preponderance of views expressed by the study participants on whether the international environment can or does influence integration efforts in Africa led the researcher to agree less. Fifthly, the researcher aligns with the view by a majority of the respondents to the effect that there is no famine of policies, treaties, protocols and agreements aimed at leading Africa to its desired level of development. This study views the AUC as an organ that plays an interventionist role through policy advocacy which proposes and recommends policies and programmes for the consideration of African leaders during their plenary sessions towards pursuing their integrative goals. The study therefore submits that, if accorded a near-supranational status, the AUC has the potency to galvanise resources and support to facilitate the much desired integration of the African continent.


Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2018.