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Modern patterns of economic dependence in Africa are product of a profound global transformation that had occurred primarily within the last 2 countries. West Africa participation in an international economy had been significant for over a thousand years. During the fifteenth century innovations in marine technology made it possible for European ships to circumnavigate the Africa continent. The primary objective was the spice trade of the Far East but every opportunity was taken to develop new trading opportunities on the African continent. Portugal retained a virtual monopoly of the Africa seaborne trade during the sixteenth century but was subsequently ousted by the Dutch and British. From the early seventeenth century to the middle of nineteenth century, approximately 12-15 million Africans were successfully removed across the Atlantic and to a lesser extent across the Sahara and Mediterranean. The reduction of population in situation, where agriculture was the dominant economic activity and where labor is generally acknowledged to have been scarce in relation to land would almost certainly have resulted in reduced agriculture output. It is unlikely then that the slave trade made any positive contribution to an improvement in the productive capacities of African economy, there was little significant diffusion of technology into Africa from the rest of the world apart from the introduction of crops like maize and cassava and the nature of trade goods involved- cloth, firearms, liquor etc did not encourage further productive process.

An economic arrangement between different regions marked by the reduction and elimination of trade barriers and the coordination of monetary and fiscal policies. The aim of economic integration is to reduce costs for both consumers and producers, as well as to increase


trade between the countries taking part in the agreement. Economic integration is the unification of economic policies between different states through the partial or full abolition of tariff and non-tariff restrictions on trade taking place among them prior to their integration. This is meant to turn to lead to lower prices for distributors and consumers with the goal of increasing the combined economic productivity of the states.

Economic cooperation could be defined as the coming together of geographically proximate states which share a sense of inadequacy in dealing with the problems of security and welfare. The desire of achieve increase in living standards gave rise to many forms and stages of economic cooperation such as free trade areas, custom unions, common markets and economic unions. The achievements of economic cooperation in developed countries have resulted in increased interest in trying cooperation among developing countries as well. The view of the developing countries is that they could rely upon each other for the supply of goods and services through economic integration, thereby less dependent on developed countries for industrial goods. Similarly, through cooperation, they could combine forces to enhance their bargaining power vis-à-vis the developed countries and ensure a new international economic order that is more favorable to them.

The Economic Community of West African States is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 may 1975, and signed the treaty providing for the establishment of ECOWAS. Its mission is to promote economic integration across the regional. Considered one of the pillars of the African economic community, the organization was founded in order to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region. The organization operates officially in three co-equal languages- French, English and Portuguese.


The ECOWAS consists of two institutions to implement policies- the ECOWAS commission and the ECOWAS bank for investments and development, formerly known as the fund for cooperation until it was renamed in 2001. The members ECOWAS are; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.


ECOWAS was established in May, 1975 as a regional institutional framework for the coordination and promotion of economic cooperation and sustainable development in West Africa. The challenges of economic development in an underdeveloped and highly unstable environment such as West Africa appear to be enormous and so leave one to ponder on the possibility of success or otherwise in realizing such an ideal. Mr. Nicholas Plessz in his book; problems and prospects of economic integration in West Africa gave general introduction to the problems of West African economic integration. He defines West Africa as the eighteenth independent countries plus Spanish and Portuguese guinea that are enclosed by the territories of former French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa. Plessz‟s definition of West Africa is thus much wider than the economic commission for the West Africa‟s recently adopted definition which excludes the former French equatorial African territories as well as the Cameroons. Moreover he examined the timely issue of economic integration in West Africa which is somewhat disappointing. However the low level of economy integration and cooperation as affected the growth of West African states which has made them to be underdeveloped.


However, ECOWAS has failed in West African economic cooperation and integration. It has also succeeded in West African States; therefore, the statement of problem of this research is to analyze the problems of ECOWAS as well as its successes in line with the aims and objectives of ECOWAS because the failures and successes of ECOWAS, has a lot to do with the economic integration and cooperation of West African states.


The objectives of study are:

1.      To examine the timely issue of economic integration in West Africa.

2.      To examine the impact of ECOWAS in West African economic cooperation and integration.

3.      To examine the challenges of economic underdeveloped and highly unstable environment such as West Africa.

4.      To examine the failures and successes of ECOWAS in west African economic integration and cooperation

5.      To examine how the failures and successes of ECOWAS as affected the economic cooperation and integration of West African States.


Though the issue of economic cooperation and integration moves in the same direction and the failures of ECOWAS have eaten deep into the marrows of the West African society, whereas, the successes have also impacted greatly in West African Society. Therefore, if the issue of West Africa‟s cooperation and integration is treated, it tends to enhance the economic growth and stability of West African States. The research topic signifies that the reader should know the


impacts of ECOWAS on West Africa‟s integration and cooperation. Finally, the study will serve as a reference material for further studies.


TEMPORAL SCOPE: This research, economic integration and cooperation in West Africa in which ECOWAS is the case study, will be studied within the time frame of the West African economic history from the time of slave trade and pre-colonial era till date. This is to show that the issue economic integration and cooperation has started dates back before the colonization of West African States till date.

SPACIAL SCOPE: My area of research would be limited to West African States only that is, member states of ECOWAS.


This research work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is the introduction which contains: background of study, Statement of the problem, Objectives of the study, research questions, significance of study, scope of study, limitation to the study, prganization of stdy and the definition of terms. Chapter two on the other hand is the literature review and theoretical framework. The third chapter reviews research methodology which includes research design, methods of data analysis and method of data collection. Chapter four spells out the data analysis while chapter five is the conclusion and recommendations.

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