Thinking and working politically about regional cooperation and integration

Thursday 23 June, 10:00-11:30am BST, 11:00-12:30am CEST. In collaboration with ECDPM.

Event Summary

Why do governments sign up to regional agreements but then not implement them? The challenge in thinking and working politically (TWP) regionally is that practitioners must not only seek to understand how political interests, incentives and power relations relate to regional ambitions, policies and contexts between countries, but also how these interact with political relations within countries. As part of the TWP Community of Practice Global Webinar Series, this online event, organised in collaboration with ECDPM, discussed the experience and challenges of thinking and working politically in regional approaches, focusing on economic integration and cooperation in Africa. Building on lessons from more of a decade of work that ECDPM has led on this, the event explored examples of innovative efforts at supporting regional integration in politically-informed ways to tease out insights about how what has worked well, less well and why, and to move from policy to practice and impact.

This event has now ended. Please watch the recording below. 

Read the reflection note ‘Thinking and working politically on African Economic Integration‘ here

Watch this video from Bruce Byiers on why thinking and working politically on regional integration is important. 

Speakers included:

Allen Sophia Asiimwe

Chief of Programmes, TradeMark East Africa

Allen is the Deputy CEO and Chief of Programmes at TradeMark East Africa. In this role she is responsible for the overall operations and technical delivery of TMEA’s entire project portfolio in infrastructure, trade environment, and business competitiveness with a cumulative budget of $1.2bn (over the last decade), spanning 12 countries in East, Horn and Southern Africa, and currently expanding to West Africa. Allen also oversees the Climate Change and Gender portfolios and leads collaboration with key stakeholders and development partners, including the Partner States, FCDO, USAID, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.  She chaired the $32m TMEA Safe Trade Emergency Facility that was established to respond to and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the region. 

Bruce Byiers

Head, African Economic Integration, ECDPM

Dr. Bruce Byiers is a development economist with a DPhil from the University of Sussex. While past work has focused a lot on strategies and policies for private sector development and engagement, his interests and responsibilities increasingly revolve around regional integration processes in Africa, particularly from a political economy perspective. This includes looking at regional organisations, but also at regional economic integration dynamics. Bruce has carried out policy research for ECDPM in many countries in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa. Prior to ECDPM, Bruce worked as a consultant for UNIDO, USAID, World Bank and DANIDA, among others. The focus of his work was mainly on industrial policy, private sector development and tax policy, particularly in Mozambique, Rwanda and Lesotho.

Maiko Miyake

Principal Operations Officer, World Bank Group

Head of Programme, Trade Facilitation West Africa

Maiko MIYAKE is the World Bank Group program manager of Trade Facilitation West Africa Program (TFWA), which is an initiative driven by multiple international development partners (i.e., USAID, the Netherlands, EU and BMZ) to improve trade facilitation in West Africa. The Program is managed by the World Bank Group and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), with strategic oversight and guidance provided by a Steering Committee that is chaired by the ECOWAS Commission and supported by the UEMOA Commission as deputy chair. Maiko has a strong track record of achieving results on the ground for over 100 projects in a broad range of private sector and financial sector development themes from multiple regions of the world.

Dr. Wumi Olayiwola

Researcher, ECOWAS COmmission

Dr Wumi Olayiwola holds a Ph.D degree in Economics with specialization in International Trade, Development Economics and Macroeconomic Analysis. He is a Trade Economist and Principal Programme Officer in the Department of Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research of ECOWAS Commission, Abuja. He has worked extentively in macroeconomic policy, international trade, and economic integration issues. He is a Faculty Member of Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa (TRAPCA), Arusha, Tanzania. He also has vast experience in consultancy and developed research materials and facilitated training programme for the World Bank Group, Washington DC. USA.  He is also a Research Fellow to the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Nairobi Kenya. He is also a Managing Partner of Market Derivatives Limited, Lagos and KSM2G Professionals, Abuja. He contributed numerous articles on trade, industrial development, and macroeconomic policies to learned publications. He is a consultant to United Nations Development Programme, GIZ, USAID, and UNECA on issues of trade facilitation, the African Continental Free Trade Area and regional integration.

Kathleen van Hove (facilitator)

Senior Policy Officer, ECDPM

Kathleen Van Hove, a Belgian national, is Senior Policy Officer, Institutional relations and partnerships. Kathleen’s main areas of expertise are ACP-EU cooperation, trade and development, and regional integration. Prior to joining ECDPM, she was Programme Officer at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in London. Ms. Van Hove holds a Master of Science degree in Foreign Service, from Georgetown University.

Suggested Reading:

See ECDPM’s PEDRO Synthesis report The Political Economy of Africa’s Spaghetti Bowl of regional Organisations
On the need to ‘rewire’ external support to regional integration
On RPG types see Byiers, de Melo et al., 2021 – African regional integration: A problem-driven approach to delivering regional public goods
Other PEDRO-related documents at
Regional map tool:
On the AfCFTA and Nigeria and South African roles/processes
On African Regional Responses to COVID-19, 2020
On ‘Doing Regional Development Differently’ –