n Journal for Contemporary History - A strategic hegemonic approach to functional developmentalism in deepening regional cooperation and integration in Africa

Volume 38, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



Two competing perspectives have influenced the debate concerning the approach to be adopted in search of continental-wide integration in Africa. Although both perspectives argue for the idea of a "United States of Africa", the approach of former Libyan leader, Muhammar Gaddafi, advocated for holistic integration, whilst other African leaders, spearheaded by Thabo Mbeki, argued for incrementalism aimed at first strengthening regional integration. Whereas the African Union (AU) has accepted incrementalism as the preferred approach to continental integration, minimal emphasis has been placed on what this approach should constitute. Drawing from the successes of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and West African Power Pool (WAPP), this article argues that functional developmentalism is most suitable to strengthening Regional Economic Communities (RECs) throughout the continent. It postulates that functional developmentalism signifies a more effective role for hegemons which is firmly entrenched in the principles and norms of cooperative hegemony. Using the criteria for cooperative hegemony, namely capacities for power sharing, power aggregation and commitment, it illustrates the potential for enhancing regional cooperation.

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