Integration theories and economic development : a case study of the political and social dynamics of ECOWAS
The study is a multidimensional analysis of regional economic integration with special reference to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It looks at the interaction between economics, politics and society in the context of integration and asks if the predominantly economic and mainly a priori advantages postulated by integration theory are feasible in West Africa. The thesis is both descriptive and analytical. First it paints the political and social landscape of West Africa in broad strokes. Using the picture thus created, it analyses integration in the sub-region by measuring the extent of integration achieved by ECOWAS since its formation in 1975. A heuristic paradigm, originally proposed by Leon Lindberg, is used to measure and explain the level of integration achieved so far. Field research, of a preliminary kind, is also used to examine the impact of society on national politics and intra-regional relations, and hence on regional co-operation and integration. The conclusions of the thesis include: the need for a revision of the dynamic theory of regional integration to formulate process mechanisms that can be implemented by developing countries; regional collective decision making is extremely difficult in unstable political systems; the need to tone down the exaggerated expectations of regional integration among developing countries; that tribes across borders have both positive and negative implications for integration; and that the ideology of the dynamic theory of integration is rapidly becoming obsolete in that dirigisme is no longer a viable policy option for most governments. Despite the need for higher levels of economic interaction among developing countries there is no reason, from our study, to believe that such relations will be different from those that pertain in international relations generally. The issues of national interest are just as salient in the interaction between developing countries as they are in the relations between the developed and developing countries. The study did not find any overwhelming desire among West African countries to co-operate. Neither did it find a cosmopolitanism that puts the regional good over the national interest. It therefore calls into question the premise on which integration among developing countries is based; that states ought to rationalise their industries.