This panel investigates how, by whom and for what purpose African regional organisations are financed, what impact this has on the nature of regionalism in Africa, and how to conceptualise the projection and practices of institutionalised regionalism in a comparative perspective.
Africa abounds with regional organisations (RO). They constitute an integral part of the political landscape in most parts of the continent and some have emerged into becoming actors in their own right. Numerous studies have been conducted on the role of ROs play in providing development and security for Africa. A frequent critique has been the lack of institutionalisation. However, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to their own institutional logics. In particular, the finances and the bureaucratic culture of ROs have not received nearly as much attention as their counterparts on the national level, partly due to the difficulties of data collection and a lack of transparency in this respect. This panel will thus explore these crucial but under-researched aspects of the role of ROs in Africa. The panel looks at the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities (RECs), but also at other ROs of imperial or functional origin. This will allow a comparative perspective to address the questions of how, by whom and for what purpose ROs are financed, what impact this has on the nature of regionalism in Africa, and how to conceptualise the projection and practices of ROs in their region and beyond. External donors, who often play a crucial role in the set-up and even survival of ROs, will also be included into the picture.