East Africa: Competing Dynamics in a Rapidly Changing Region

17-01-2014

The violence that has engulfed South Sudan since mid-December 2013 and the neighbouring countries' reactions to the bloodshed largely reflect the dynamics underlying the East African region. Whilst many countries in the region enjoy abundant natural resources (including oil) and / or have recorded strong economic growth, they have failed to bring about structural transformations or to spur sustainable development. Among the many obstacles preventing East Africa from fulfilling its full potential, two of the most important are poor governance and armed conflict – both evident in South Sudan, as well as Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. Given the cross-border nature of economic, social and political dynamics in East Africa, advancing regional integration is necessary to promote political stability and socioeconomic development. Investing in regional infrastructure projects is one of the priorities of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for 2014-2020. The EU should also continue to engage with regional organisations to foster economic and political cooperation in various areas, including peace and security, when these can play an important role. The mediation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in South Sudan is a strong example of the need to involve regional actors in finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to armed conflict.

The violence that has engulfed South Sudan since mid-December 2013 and the neighbouring countries' reactions to the bloodshed largely reflect the dynamics underlying the East African region. Whilst many countries in the region enjoy abundant natural resources (including oil) and / or have recorded strong economic growth, they have failed to bring about structural transformations or to spur sustainable development. Among the many obstacles preventing East Africa from fulfilling its full potential, two of the most important are poor governance and armed conflict – both evident in South Sudan, as well as Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. Given the cross-border nature of economic, social and political dynamics in East Africa, advancing regional integration is necessary to promote political stability and socioeconomic development. Investing in regional infrastructure projects is one of the priorities of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for 2014-2020. The EU should also continue to engage with regional organisations to foster economic and political cooperation in various areas, including peace and security, when these can play an important role. The mediation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in South Sudan is a strong example of the need to involve regional actors in finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to armed conflict.