Regional Integration Prospects, Challenges and Opportunities in Africa: A Case of the Tripartite Free Trade Area

  • Moorosi Leshoele
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


There is an old adage that says ‘kopano ke matla’, from Sesotho language, which means unity is strength. This idiom best captures the significance of uniting for a particular desired end in whatever facet of life. Regional integration for this paper is one such facet that will be explored through the lenses of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). Regional integration is defined, for the purposes of this paper, as a concept which signify political, economic, and cultural high level cooperation between independent states and their people, for mutually beneficial ends. TFTA is a regional bloc or organisation that was formed in 2015 comprising three smaller Regional Economic Communities (RECs) – Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC), and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) merged into one. Amongst other purposes for the formation of TFTA is for it to pave way and provide a blueprint for the Continental Free Trade Area, which was earmarked for 2017. It also seeks to enlarge its markets, and increase its bargaining power when negotiating business deals with other regions and super powers.


  1. Alexander, N. 1999. An African renaissance without African languages? Social Dynamics, 25(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. All Africa Media. 2012. Africa: How to Effectively Boost Intra-African Trade. Online: [Accessed on 11 May 2012].
  3. Aniche, E. 2014. Problematizing Neofunctionalism in the Search for a New Theory of African Integration: The Case of the Proposed Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA) in Africa. Developing Country Studies, 1(20), 128–142.Google Scholar
  4. Biko, S. 1978. I Write What I Like. Johannesburg: Heinemann Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Kimenyi, M.S. & Kuhlmann, K. 2012. African Union: Challenges and prospects for regional integration in Africa. The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 7(1), 7–27.Google Scholar
  6. Lesser, C. & Moisé-Leeman, E. 2009. Informal Cross-border Trade and Trade Facilitation Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa. OECD Trade Policy Working Paper 86. France: OECD Publication.Google Scholar
  7. Luke, D. & Mabuza, Z. 2015. The Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement: A milestone for Africa’s regional integration process. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 4(6), 6–9.Google Scholar
  8. Mansour, M. 2007. Revenue Mobilization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges From Globalization. Paper presented at the USAID economic growth officers workshop, Washington, DC, 15 October.Google Scholar
  9. Martin, G. 1986. The Franc Zone, underdevelopment and dependency in Francophone Africa. The Third World Quarterly, 8(1), 205–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. McCarthy, C. 2010. Reconsidering regional integration in Sub-Saharan Africa. In C. McCarthy, J.B. Cronjé, W. Denner, T. Fundira, W. Mwanza, E. Bursvik, Supporting Regional Integration in East and Southern Africa – Review of Select Issues. Tralac: Stellenbosch.Google Scholar
  11. Mungai, C. 2016. Mail & Guardian Africa. The next 35 years: Nigeria and South Africa may not be Africa’s biggest economies. Who will? Online: [Accessed on 20 July 2016].
  12. NEPAD, AU, AfDB. 2011. Study on Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa. Phase III. PIDA: Interconnecting, Integrating, and Transforming a Continent The Regional Infrastructure That Africa Needs to Integrate and Grow through 2040.Google Scholar
  13. NEPAD Business Foundation. 2016. A new dawn for Africa’s infrastructure projects. Accessed online: [Accessed on 07 April 2016].
  14. Ndlhovu, F. 2013. Cross-border languages in Southern African economic and political integration. African Studies, 72(1), 19–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Tandon, Y. 2015. Trade is War: The West’s War Against the Rest of the World. OR Books: US.Google Scholar
  16. TFTA Summit.2015. Communiqué of the third COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite summit. Held in Sharm El Sheikh, Arab Republic of Egypt on 10 June 2015.Google Scholar
  17. The Economist. 2013. Little to fear but fear itself: slowing demand for raw materials will not derail African economies. Online: [Accessed 12 April 2016].
  18. Walsh J.T. 2006. New Customs. Finance and Development 43(1). Online: [Accessed 15 March 2012].
  19. Zamfir, L. 2015. The Tripartite Free Trade Area project integration in southern and eastern Africa. Briefing for the European Parliament.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moorosi Leshoele
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Development StudiesUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations