Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Journal Article: “Post-normal times: re-thinking the futures of the EU-Africa relationship”

GovInn researchers Dr Robin Bourgeois, Dr Frank Mattheis and Dr John Kotsopoulos have contributed a journal article to the European Journal of Futures Research titled “Post-normal times: re-thinking the futures of the EU-Africa relationship”.  The article is part of the Centre’s EU-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order (ERGO) and Futures of EU-Africa Relations: Lessons from scenario-building (FEARLESS), which is funded by European Commission’s Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme.

The nature of the relationship between the European Union (EU) and Africa is in permanent evolution. Historically, the EU mostly dominated the relationship while Africa developed adaptive/reactive strategies. With the establishment of new powers as well as efforts to decolonise the thought and practise of North-South interactions, it is crucial to understand what the future of the relationship could be. The purpose of this paper is to draw lessons from the “Broadening the debate on EU-Africa relations” workshop whose aim was to advance perspectives on EU-Africa relations from the point of view of African scholars. The process consisted of identifying major influential factors in the relationship and assessing what role they played in the past and what role they could play in the future. The results indicate a decline of the importance of EU-dominated factors and the emergence of African agency related factors. We interpret these results as a transformation of this relationship, using the concept “post-normal” to highlight indeterminacy, insolvability and irreversibility as the new context. Implications are discussed regarding the type of research that needs to be developed in order to further investigate this transformation, particularly the meaning of a shifting focus from (normal times) EU-Africa relationship to (post-normal times) Africa-EU relationships.


The full article is open access and can be read here.

BOOK: Migration Conundrums, Regional Integration and Development

Dr Inocent Moyo, GovInn Director Dr Chris Nshimbi and Dr Jussie Laine have recently published an edited volume titled “Migration Conundrums, Regional Integration and Development: Africa-Europe Relations in a Changing Global Order”. The book has been published by Springer Nature. The book is the outcome of an African-Europe relations migration project funded by Erasmus+, in which GovInn is collaborating with the University of Zululand, University of Eastern Finland and Nottingham on Trent University. The collaboration was strengthened by two events, one in September 2018 at the University of Pretoria and the second in November 2019 at the University of Eastern Finland.

This book examines Africa-Europe relationships and intra-Africa relationships vis-à-vis migration. It analyses the African integration project that is being used to effectively manage migration within Africa and across its RECs, and harnessing it for development.The book presents debates related to the EU’s hardening and securitisation of its external border against migrants from Africa. It shows that migration actually challenges Africa-European relations, which is discussed as an important theme in this book.

Authors in this book volume investigate several issues ranging from conundrums relating to migration between Africa and Europe to migration within Africa, but also in relation to borders and boundaries, its bearing on regional and continental integration and the significance of this in terms of relations between Africa and Europe. This book volume brings into conversation issues relating to the governance of migration for development, social cohesion and regional integration.

More information on the book can be found on Springer’s website.

ON THE RADIO: Why the AU has failed to silence the guns, Voice of the Cape

On 6 July 2020, GovInn Director Dr Chris Nshimbi spoke to Shafiq Morton on Voice of the Cape Radio about his article published by The Conversation on “Why the African Union has failed to ‘silence the guns’. And some solutions”.

Seven years ago African leaders committed themselves to working towards an end to armed conflict.
As they marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African Union, thy pledged to ensure lasting peace on the continent.
At the time of the declaration, Africa had disproportionately high levels of conflict.
So why has the African Union failed to silence the guns? And what are the solutions?
On line is Director and Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Governance and Innovation (GovInn) at the University of Pretoria, Christopher Changwe Nshimbi.

CHAPTER: “African Union and European Union Politics: The Veiled Account of Longstanding Interregional Relations”

GovInn Director Dr Chris Nshimbi contributed a chapter to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, titled “African Union and European Union Politics: The Veiled Account of Longstanding Interregional Relations”.

Africa turned the corner of marginalization in international affairs at the beginning of the 21st century. The end of the Cold War and global shifts in power toward the end of the previous century were closely followed by “Africa rising.” This contrasted previous decades-long narratives of a hopeless, war-ravaged, and plague-ridden continent. The Africa rising mantra followed reforms implemented in the late 1980s and early 1990s that improved institutional capacities and established African countries on firm business, economic, and political trajectories. This promised improved business environment, economic vitality, and positive democratic outlook.

Africa has thus become important to major powers. They court it for its support to govern challenges that necessitate international cooperation and to enhance the major powers’ influence in global institutions and on the world. Rising Asian economies such as China and India compete for Africa’s natural resources against traditional global powers like the European Union (EU).

The EU has long been economically and politically involved with Africa and has generally dominated these relations. Leading theories, discussions, and research that examine the historic, economic, and geopolitical factors at play in the evolution of African Union (AU)-EU relations suggest that elements of dependency are a calculated creation of colonialism and encounters that occurred between Africa and Europe before the advent of colonialism. Dependency continues to characterize these relations, as shown by formal AU-EU pacts. Decolonial scholars argue that the dependency is real, as Africa did not demolish colonial structures at independence. Some critical scholars further argue that the history of colonialism is also pertinent to the history of the EU in that the history of European integration was partly influenced by the history of colonialism. That is, the history of colonialism contributed to the political creation of the EU, and attempts by Western European countries to form a pan-European organization coincided with early 20th-century efforts to stabilize colonialism in Africa. The European countries could only efficiently exploit Africa by combining their political and economic capacities.

AU-EU relations face many challenges in the 21st century. Influence in the relations is predominately unidirectional, with the EU determining the terms of engagement even on issues peculiar to Africa or the AU and where the latter appears to have the upper hand. The challenges show that the AU and EU are interdependent, but the onus is on the AU to set priorities right and enhance capabilities for engaging the EU. This would be easier if the EU were not continuously devising ways to maintain its dominance in the “partnership.” An overarching challenge in the partnership, therefore, is finding common ground and leveling the playing field.

For more details on this chapter, please visit the Oxford Research Encyclopedia’s website.

ARTICLE: “Why the African Union has failed to ‘silence the guns’. And some solutions”, The Conversation, 30 June 2020

On 30 June 2020, GovInn Director Dr Chris Nshimbi published an article for The Conversation titled “Why the African Union has failed to ‘silence the guns’. And some solutions”. The article examines the 2013 African Union agreement to remove the burden of conflict from the next generation, and in 2016 this agreement was included in the Lusaka Road Map, with 2020 set as the deadline for ending conflict on the continent.

At the time of the declaration, Africa had disproportionately high levels of conflict. State and non-state actors in Africa waged about 630 armed conflicts between 1990 and 2015. Conflicts orchestrated by non-state actors accounted for over 75% of conflicts globally.

The efforts to ‘silence the guns’ has been singularly ineffective. Since the pledge was signed conflict in Africa has increased.

One reason for the failure is that the 2020 goal was too ambitious given the number of conflicts on the continent. The second reason is that many are internal, arising from the grievances citizens have with their governments. This internal dynamic appears to have been ignored from the outset.


You can read the full article on The Conversation website.


ARTICLE: “Social Cohesion From the Top‐Down or Bottom‐Up? The Cases of South Sudan and Burundi”, Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research

Dr Emmaculate Liaga and GovInn Deputy Director Dr Cori Wielenga co-authored a paper comparing peace processes in South Sudan and Burundi.

Both Burundi and South Sudan experience intractable conflicts which national and international actors struggle to resolve. Efforts to consolidate the nation‐state and foster social cohesion seem to be unsuccessful. As has been well documented in the literature, top‐down efforts to facilitate social cohesion by international and national actors are not enough to foster sustainable peace. Yet the dynamics and actors involved in bottom‐up interventions for social cohesion are less well understood than elite interventions. This article contributes to a deeper understanding of the bottom‐up interventions and explores the vertical integration between top‐down and bottom‐up efforts at social cohesion that exist along the local, national, and international trajectory in the two cases. Particularly in contexts such as South Sudan and Burundi, which are characterized by societies that are held together through complex social and relational networks, and in which informal governance and conflict resolution mechanisms hold high levels of legitimacy, this under‐researched aspect of social cohesion may hold critical insights in terms of consolidating nation‐states. The article provides an argument for the consideration of bottom‐up approaches for more integration of social cohesion mechanisms.

More information on the article can be found on the journal website.

BOOK: “Borders, Mobility, Regional Integration and Development”

In June 2020, GovInn Director Dr Chris Nshimbi and Dr Inocent Moyo from the University of Zululand, edited a volume titled “Borders, Mobility, Regional Integration and Development: Issues, Dynamics and Perspectives in West, Eastern and Southern Africa”.

This book examines social, economic and political issues in West, Eastern and Southern Africa in relation to borders, human mobility and regional integration. In the process, it highlights the innovative aspects of human agency on the African continent, and presents a range of empirical case studies that shed new light on Africa’s social, economic and political realities.

Further, the book explores cooperation between African nation-states, including their historical socioeconomic interconnections and governance of transboundary natural resources. Moreover, the book examines the relationship between the spatial mobility of borders and development, and the migration regimes of nation-states that share contiguous borders in different geographic territories. Further topics include the coloniality of borders, sociocultural and ethnic relations, and the impact of physical borders on human mobility and wellbeing.

Given its scope, the book represents a unique resource that offers readers a wealth of new insights into today’s Africa.

The book includes a chapter from GovInn masters student Prudence Nkomo.
For more information on the book, visit the Springer website.
Photo by Anaya Katlego on Unsplash

‍The contribution of redistributive land reform to employment creation, a research for the CBPEP and the National Treasury

GovInn co-director Dr. Bruno Losch contributed to a collective research on Employment-intensive rural land reform in South Africa, commissioned by the Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion (CBPEP), an EU-funded initiative hosted by Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), an agency of the National Treasury.

The study was implemented by a team of researchers and experts, coordinated by Professor Ben Cousins, founder of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape.

The team investigated the following questions: Can land redistribution be undertaken in a manner that also creates jobs? And if so, through which types of land use and farming systems? Operating at what scales? What is the potential of small-scale farming, in particular?

“Land reform can assist in creating more employment-intensive farming systems by: reducing the size of farming units, while increasing their total numbers; changing the mix and scale of farm commodities produced; and changing farming systems so that they become more employment-intensive” Ben Cousins wrote in a summary article in The Conversation Africa.

Based on case studies in four local municipalities in Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape, and looking at the impacts of redistributing 50% of available agricultural land with support to small-scale farmers, the research estimated that more than 23,000 jobs
could be created in these four municipalities alone.

The results consist in a set of thematic, value chains and municipality reports, with summaries, policy briefs and a final report.

Bruno Losch is one of the co-authors of the final report and the main author of a thematic study entitled International experiences of support policies for smallholders: A review and an exploration of underlying rationale and narrative. He also contributed in one of the local
municipality studies.

Read the full report and the policy brief with the policy recommendations.

All the documentation can be found on the CBPEP website (here).

Webinar: Civil Society Organisations & Food Aid: Lessons for an ongoing crisis?, 23 June 2020, 10:00-12:00


  • Andrew Boraine (CEO – WCEDP and coordinator of the NGO-Government Food Relief Coordination Forum);
  • Mymoena Scholtz (Where Rainbows Meet Training and Development Foundation);
  • Henriette Abrahams (Bonteheuwel Street Committee);
  • TBC (Black Sash);
  • Andy Du Plessis (Food Forward);
  • Egbert Wessels (PEDI);
  • Nandi Msezane (C19 Peoples’ Coalition – Food Working Group). 

Panelists will discuss the recent mobilisation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) around the food security problem under lockdown and explore how these organisations have worked together, and with government, in a valiant attempt to provide a shared solution to an acute problem in a time of crisis. The meeting will also explore what the legacy of this mass CSO/ NGO mobilisation might be for local food governance in South Africa.

Under lock down food insecurity has sky rocketed into an acute and visceral problem that can no longer be ignored.  In Cape Town alone it is estimated that 1.6 million people and approximately 500 000 households are likely to require some form of food aid. The demand for emergency food aid has stretched the infrastructure and networks of both government and CSOs. In addition to a few large and more medium sized NGOs, an army of hundreds, possibly thousands, of small and community based CSO/ NGOs have assisted, including CANs (Community Action Networks) and community food kitchens. New networks and governance platforms have sprung up to provide coordination. For example, weekly CSO-government food relief coordination meetings in the Western Cape have been facilitated by the Economic Development Partnership (EDP).

This is not only a tremendous human response to a desperate crisis but also a potentially significant moment in food governance in the country. Prior to the lockdown, one of the factors thought to be preventing greater momentum behind achieving the right to food in South Africa was the lack of CSO mobilisation on the issue. Although food insecurity was recognised as a problem by some academics, government officials and CSOs, it was previously a hidden problem that did not garner widespread public attention or demands for change. But has this now changed? What are the challenges facing these organisations? How can they play a sustainable role in food governance beyond the Covid crisis? What do they need to do this? How can they be supported?

This important webinar is an initiative of the Food Governance Community of Practice, a collaborative partnership of the Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS) and the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation.

For more information about the webinar, visit the CoE-FS website.

“Hustle: A case for informal enterprise in the African Continental Free Trade Area”, Afronomics Law, 2 May 2020

GovInn director Dr Chris Nshimbi contributed a blog to Afronomics Law on the informal economy and its relation to the African Continental  Free Trade Agreement, titled Hustle: A case for informal enterprise in the African Continental Free Trade Area.


Highlighting some of the challenges of and related to the informal economy should provide the basis for continued discussion of informality on this blog and the relevance of the informal economy to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), transformation and development. The African Union (AU) and, specifically, member states and governments of the AU will have to face up to the problems that relate to and affect the informal economy as the 21st century unfolds and they implement the AfCFTA. Member states of the AU commendably make provisions, albeit very briefly, for informal enterprises and actors in Article 27.2.(d) of the AfCFTA Agreement.


You can read the full article here.