Thursday, April 28, 2016

CfPs: PEGNet Conference 2016 on Regional integration for Africa’s economic transformation: Challenges & opportunities| Kigali, Rwanda| 15-16 September

The Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) Conference 2016 on Regional integration for Africa's economic transformation – Challenges and opportunities will be held in Kigali, Rwanda in cooperation with the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, IPAR-Rwanda on September 15-16, 2016.


The PEGNet Conference 2016 Call for Papers is available here


Conference Theme 

Africa, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa, has moved into the focus of the global development agenda not least due to its remarkable growth in the first decade of the 21st century. Part of this growth has been caused by a commodity boom lasting until 2008. However, part of the interest also stems from domestic developments in the region, including some policy reforms and regional integration efforts. The most recent example of the latter is the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) that has brought together the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and Southern Africa Development Community (COMESA-EAC–SADC).

Regional integration is seen as an appropriate strategy to overcome the difficulties faced by a continent with a mix of small and large, sparsely and densely populated, fragmented, as well as quickly growing economies. Regional integration is regarded as an ideal approach to reap efficiency gains and exploit economies of scale. Yet, design is crucial to avoiding agreements that end on paper. So far, African regional economic communities have pursued the 'linear model' of integration with a step-wise integration of goods, labor and capital markets, and eventually monetary and fiscal integration, which have tended to focus on border measures such as the import tariff. However, this model has not materialized into success for many landlocked countries such as Rwanda that face severe supply-side constraints. A deeper integration agenda that includes financing and building regional infrastructure, trade facilitation – including customs as well as logistics, shipping, insurance, etc. − competition policy and other behind-the-border issues as well as political leadership and commitment to cooperation may address the national-level supply-side constraints far more effectively than an agenda which focuses almost exclusively on border measures.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges the importance of regional integration and interconnectivity in enhancing sustainable development of developing countries. The regional dimension is of particular importance for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (8 and 9) that focus on sustained, inclusive and sustainable goals, full and productive employment,and decent work for all as well as on resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. SDG 9 explicitly calls for an enhancement of behind-the-border measures such as the development of regional and transborder infrastructure that will be accessible by all. If these renewed regional integration efforts are to be successful, a greater emphasis has to be placed on providing solutions to challenges that have hindered the success of existing regional integration initiatives. One of the biggest challenges in Africa has been the so called 'spaghetti bowl' of overlapping integration areas and memberships that result in conflicting political and institutional commitments to different regional economic communities. Currently, 39 countries are members of more than one regional economic community. The negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU) has laid bare this state of affairs. Regional integration in Africa has to become more effective in order to counter the skepticism among trade experts as to whether regional integration may not be a detour or even a stumbling block for a full fledged participation of African countries in the global economy.

We consider regional integration to be a highly relevant issue for applied research as well as practice. There is a large demand among policymakers for strategies and methods that analyze the integration needs of different countries, particularly since these countries are confronted with various problems which do not allow for one-size fits-all strategies. In particular, but not exclusively, we invite contributions (papers and presentations of projects) that provide solutions to the following challenges and questions:


  • How will new regional integration attempts such as the TFTA address some of the challenges such as overlapping integration areas that have hindered past integration efforts?
  • What has been the impact of the EPAs with the EU on regional integration in Africa?
  • Can regional economic integration succeed in dealing with the differences that arise from heterogeneities in logistics, infrastructure, communication, fiscal regimes, geography and demographics?
  • How can regional integration enhance efforts aimed at combating regional crises such as the current energy crisis faced by many SADC countries or even the recent wave of political instability in the ECOWAS region?
  • How can regional integration schemes raise the competitiveness of land-locked countries and facilitate their participation in regional and international trade?
  • How can regional integration schemes raise the attractiveness of small countries for foreign direct investment (FDI)?
  • What are promising value chains that could be explored by regional integration?
  • How can national and regional policies be synchronised and harmonised ?
  • How can reliable data be collected for a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system of regional integration schemes ?
  • What would it take for Africa to seize the opportunities that regional integration offers for economic transformation transformation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
  • Are there lessons that can be emulated from the European model of regional integration or from experiences in other regions for Africa?


Invited Speakers


Conference Format

The conference will provide a platform for high-level dialogue and exchange of ideas between development researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. The two conference days will feature parallel sessions based on invited and contributed papers as well as project presentations. The parallel sessions will be complemented by a debate, a round-table discussion and keynote speeches by renowned speakers from academia, economic policy and development practice.

In addition, the PEGNet Best Practice Award will be awarded for the eighth time to a project that demonstrates best practice in cooperation between researchers and practitioners. While plenary sessions focus will on the conference theme, parallel sessions and Best Practice Award projects will be open to all topics in development economics.

Abstract and Project Submissions

For the best-practice award, a maximum of four projects will be selected by a committee on the basis of a three-page summary of the initiative's objectives, the type of interaction between research and practice as well as its results. The pre-selected projects will be asked to submit one additional paper or report. At the conference, each nominated initiative will be presented and the winner of a prize of Euro 3000 will be selected by the committee.

Contributed papers and projects will be selected on the basis of papers or extended abstracts written on the conference theme as well as poverty reduction, inequality, growth and other related topics in development economics. Priority will be given to empirical research with clear implications for policy design and implementation. Furthermore, we encourage practitioners to present case studies and/or share their experiences from the field.

Please email your submissions to in a pdf or Word file and indicate 'PEGNet Conference 2016' in the subject heading. The submission deadline is 29 April, 2016. Abstracts should have more than 400 words but should not exceed three pages. Notification of acceptance will be sent out in mid-June 2016. The deadline for full paper submission and additional material for the Best Practice Award is 1 August, 2016.

Important Dates

Submission of abstracts 29 April 2016
Notification of acceptance mid-June 2016
Submission of full papers 1 August 2016


The conference will be co-organised by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, IPAR-Rwanda, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported by the KfW Development Bank, and the Courant Poverty Research Centre at the University of Göttingen.

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