Why have they chopped Africa in two?

In his most recent blog post, SWAC Secretariat Director Laurent Bossard draws attention to two opposing visions of the African continent. The African Union’s administrative organisation is based on the establishment of five major regions within which national borders freely allow production, trade and friendship to flourish between peoples; the five groupings being ultimately destined to merge into a vast continental whole. On the other hand, development partners tend to deal with sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa separately. “Without warning, the international community is chopping Africa in two! It has created (no one knows exactly when) a region unknown to geographers made up of North Africa and the Middle East, known by the MENA acronym. In minds and in policies, Africa ceases to be a continent. It is demoted to the rank of region and its regions lowered to the status of sub-regions”, Mr Bossard writes. This artificial separation poses particular problems when dealing with the Sahel region. “The many Sahel stabilisation strategies are now de facto limited to the countries on the southern shore of the desert, simply because those on the northern shore do not fall under the same strategies or the same budgets. It is urgent that Africa becomes once again a continent in international organograms.”