Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Crossing African borders

The complexity and challenges facing Africa's borders make the problems in Europe seem relatively minor in comparison. It is encouraging to see, therefore, that efforts are being made to address these issues.

The impressive West African Borders and Integration website (www.afriquefrontieres.org) gives much useful information about some pilot actions being carried out in the region on cross-border co-operation. They have a cross-border diaries and podcast section - well ahead of the EU in this respect. On the other side of the continent, there appears to have been a "Cross Border Initiative" of the World Bank a few years back (www.worldbank.org/afr/findings/infobeng/infob58.htm) but there does not seem to have been much since. It also seems to have been less focussed on getting local people working together and more on trade and competition issues, which is all well and good, but will not bring the local populations together as effectively.

At the continental level, the African Union has begun to set up a pilot cross-border programme as well. It is very difficult to find any information on the web, but a Google search provides this: www.africa-union.org/root/au/Conferences/2007/june/PSC/7/Final_draft_Declaration.doc. Fine words, and a decent amount of focus on the local level, but this is clearly very early days.

Finally, to see what might be possible, have a look at this site (maloti.opencms.co.za) dealing with South Africa-Lesotho nature conservation. I am not sure why they need two national sites for a co-operation project, but the project demonstrates the potential that exists for environmental protection, tourism and managed economic development. Time for an African INTERREG, perhaps?

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