There are factors, which could make moves towards unity plausible besides other factors that could prevent or delay the emergence of the United States of Africa.
The merits and the relative importance of the factors involved in either preventing, or promoting the plausibility of African unity will now be evaluated.
It is plausible that a United States of Africa is possible as other regions and continents have already made moves towards integration and perhaps eventual union. The most notable example being that of Europe, with the moves towards European integration dating back to the late 1940s. The European integration process was given impetus by the need to recover from the destruction resulting from the Second World War, the influence of the Cold War, and the believe that closer ties between the European countries would prevent war. The continent of Europe had been divided by war and fierce rivalries between leading nations such as Britain, France and Germany for centuries. The rivalry between the European powers had global consequences including the late 19th century scramble for colonies in Africa and Asia, the First World War and the Second World War. As Judt 92008) amongst others has argued if the French and the Germans can work towards integration and unity then there is no reason why other nations cannot do the same.
Even if moves towards a united Africa are considered plausible it is not a process, which could be achieved quickly, it would be something that would be achieved over a longer period of time.
The other regions and continents, which have started integration processes and that may end up in single states began earlier than is the case in Africa. It was the Cold War that added impetus to integration in other parts of the world yet in Africa the superpowers only aided African countries to suit their interests, often at the cost of regional stability. Indeed Soviet and US involvement arguably prolonged civil wars in countries like Angola. Promoting regional integration in Africa did not suit the needs of the superpowers so it was not done, in contrast with Europe, Latin America, and Asia. It has taken several decades for the Europeans to have a common flag and some of the countries to share a single currency, there have being lengthy delays to get that far. As per Tansey (1995) with many African states not becoming independent until the 1960s or later their leaders were more concerned with learning to run themselves instead of giving away powers to a unified African power.
There are arguments that a United States of Africa is not plausible and is therefore unlikely to ever happen. There are a variety of cultural, economic, political, and social factors that limit the prospects of African unity being achieved. As a result of history Africa is a really diverse continent, which means that it has not been easy to get Africans to work towards unity. The legacy of being former European colonies has not helped, with the formation of states by dividing the continent up over maps creating instability, civil wars, and ethnic conflicts in countries including Nigeria, Rwanda, and Sudan. Economic development, or more precisely the lack of it could also be considered a major stumbling block for hopes of uniting Africa. Hobsbawm (1994) considered that Africa would not find it straightforward to act in it's best interests taken as a single whole.
Overall, theoretically at least it would be plausible to achieve a United States of Africa. However in practice should such a development take place it could take many decades to happen. However the ways, in which Africa was dominated and then mostly abandoned by other powers has arguably delayed economic and political development and even made it impossible to have viable nation states within their existing borders let alone consider unifying the whole continent. Still the progress of integration in other regions may provide further encouragement to further attempts at African unity to promote progress across the entire continent.
Hobsbawm, E ,(1994) Age of Extremes – The Short Twentieth Century 1914 – 1991, Michael Joseph, London 429 – 489
Judt, T. (2008) Post War – A History of Europe Since 1945, Pimlico Books, London 500 - 585
Tansey, S D, (1995) Politics – The Basics, Routledge, London and New York 35 - 41
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