The Dialogues project explored the economic and resilience challenges shared by North African states and – in particular – areas where regional knowledge exchange, cooperation and joint initiatives could help tackle them. The project also investigated what role international actors like the UK might play to support this. Dialogues was a collaboration with the North Africa Joint Unit of the UK government.
North African states share many similar political, economic and resilience challenges yet there is limited cooperation among them. Transforming North African countries’ economic agendas is important for their long-term sustainability.
The economies of these countries remain plagued by dependence on the public sector for employment while private enterprise struggles to grow. Years of economic and social underdevelopment threaten to undermine stability within the region.
The poor level of regional integration of trade in North Africa – in particular the Maghreb Union – also continues to adversely impact domestic economies. A major obstacle for mutual economic initiatives across North Africa, however, has been the inability to overcome or manage political differences across the region, particularly in the Maghreb.
North African states face significant transnational challenges over illicit trade, from drugs and weapons to subsidized and counterfeit goods as well as smuggling and trafficking of humans. These activities are most prevalent in borderlands, where the states in question have often only exercised limited authority over the local populations.
These borders also facilitate the evasion of interdiction by criminal networks and Salafi-Jihadist groups through crossing from one state to another. This subsequently represents a significant threat to the prosperity of all countries in the region.