Implicit in the statements of then U. N. Secretary-General and the World Bank Vice President is the need for an institutional focus on this topic. A development-oriented academic institute, designed to pursue research and planning strategies, can help practitioners successfully turn the aspirations for Africa's economic integration successfully into practical results. Such an institute can also develop and test strategies that help them, via practical workshops, seminars and inservice training, to unravel the obstacles that have continued to burden down and hinder economic integration and cooperation in Africa. The institute, located at an institution such as the Washington, DC-based Howard University, could contribute in a large measure towards the success of this effort by developing specific strategies through which multilateral organizations, including the African Leadership Forum, the OAU and the UN itself, and African and U.S. governments could concretely help to increase substantively this process in Africa.

     In 1982, the World Bank published its first major study on African economic development, entitled Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (widely referred to as "The Berg Report" after its senior author, Elliot Berg). Although the Lagos Plan of Action and the Berg Report differed in many approaches to Africa's economic "crisis" [see Robert S. Browne & Robert J. Cummings, The Lagos Plan of Action vs. The Berg Report (1985)], there was no dispute between the two on the role of "Regionalism" in Africa's economic advancement.

     Notwithstanding the obstacles in the way of regional economic cooperation and integration noted in the World Bank Report, Dr. Elliot Berg thought that "regional economic cooperation (was) essential in loosening long-term development constraints facing many African states." He went further to plead that "the donor community should help African governments move toward this objective, since regional economic cooperation and ultimate integration are important for the reduction of long-term obstacles to development, in several respects."

     A workshop on regional integration and cooperation was organized by the World Bank in 1988 as part of a conference entitled The Long-Term Perspective Study of Sub-Saharan Africa. This workshop was the World Bank's "first comprehensive assessment of regional efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa, [and its] report identified regional integration and cooperation as essential elements for long-term sustainable growth."


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May 2000