Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

International Regulation and Governance in Africa


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In theory, regulation implements a set of rules and procedures which help to develop and structure a response (collective action) to factors that have led to unwanted changes of situation. Originally limited to the sphere of real economy, it has gradually embraced theories on state, institutions, development, governance, etc., because the search for non-spontaneous balance cannot ignore the establishment of some forms of regulation. Moreover, governance, as an interactive process that involves different actors on the basis of reflection, decision making and the assessment of challenges in order to achieve the construction of a collective project, necessarily refers to a regulation between these different actors. Thus, as governance implies regulation, the latter should be the subject of a new type of governance, to actually correct the asymmetries it is supposed to.

The recent international financial crisis, which has undermined key activity sectors in many countries, shows the limits of global governance and highlights the need to break with "market fundamentalism" and to rethink regulation mechanisms that are in the heart of the neoliberal and productivist logic. It just confirmed our observation on other major crises (1929, World War II, oil shocks, etc.) which, in some way, questioned the self-stabilizing nature of the market and regulatory instruments which imposed themselves on the organization of economic recovery and reconstruction. However, in addition to controlling the market internationally, regulatory instruments serve the hegemonic neoliberal mode of governance and thus rule over the world. Indeed, the international instruments in the loss of legitimacy, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), require profound changes in their global governance, not to mention the implementation of an international coordination of economic policies. One must thus master the mechanisms and instruments of this regulation in order to understand how the maintenance of structural inequalities, which it is supposed to reduce, is built.

For instance, suffice to mention the influence of multinational corporations in the field of food trade to be convinced of it. Indeed, even if 90% of food products remain in the circuit of domestic economy, multinational corporations controlling the remaining 10% impose their rules by setting prices and patterns of transactions to which producers as well as consumers are subjected. Since a few firms are able to dictate their rules and control regulatory instruments internationally, the mode of governance is deeply in question.

It has therefore become imperative to find alternatives since interactions, which are nowadays stronger and facilitated by technological progress, are putting us in a global village and making globalization a fact. This globalization is accompanied by governance at international level to regulate the geopolitical, economic and even climatic challenges which it creates. It promotes cross-border interactions between peoples and interdependence links between states. Indeed, the development of global markets for the exchange of goods, services, capital and technology and their consequences at environmental level require a global regulation of the planet. Contrary to current practice, this should be based on a democratic and solidarity-based cooperation, with the purpose of ensuring the well-being of populations regardless of the ideological orientations of the states in which they live.

It is thus necessary to rethink the regulatory models in a holistic approach that does not underscore the economic dimension only and that especially takes account of Africa, which today leaves no power indifferent and is a key component of the global geopolitics. Indeed, the continent is attracting more than ever the global demand for raw materials because of its huge potential in natural resources of any kind, let alone the large areas that remain underexploited or even unexploited by agriculture. Thus, 30% of the global resources are in the African subsoil. However, although Africa, a major exporter of raw materials, has experienced a significant rise in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), especially for net oil and diamond exporters, it is nevertheless undermined by the very existence of such resources, by the poor control of the latter and their low level of processing locally, not to mention the impact of the nature of regulatory instruments. Because of its economic weight/potential, Africa is to have greater say in global governance.

Besides the regulatory instruments imposed on Africa internationally through various mechanisms (International Monetary Fund

April 19 2011

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