The Economic Community of West African States : a study in political and economic integration
The creation of ECOWAS in May 1975 marked the successful outcome of protracted negotiations that had begun shortly after independence, and which reflected the mounting sense of unease in Africa and throughout the Third World that political independence did not signify effective control by the new states of their economies. Hence the numerous experiments at integration within the region, some mainly political and others more economic in character. All, however, contributed to the movement towards regional economic integration and ECOWAS. The Ghana-Guinea Union attempted briefly to bridge the unfortunate linguistic and cultural divide separating former British and French territories In West Africa. The Union was restricted, however, to political cooperation between leaders with more or less compatible and radical ideologies, who were a small minority within the region as a whole. With independence the very number and diversity of West African states seemed to dictate a different and more gradual approach to unity based, initially, on economic cooperation and functional inter-dependence, and that has been the policy of every Nigerian government since 1960. If I have emphasised the role played by Nigeria, particularly after 1970, it is because international agencies and our future partners themselves recognised that, without Nigeria, there could be no effective West African community. By reason of its size, population and oil resources, Nigeria constitutes a core state, with no interest in territorial aggrandisement but concerned, understandably, with its own security and, therefore, with the stability of the region. These objectives are best served by policies of political cooperation, economic integration and adoption of a form of collective self-reliance. Here Nigeria's perception of its development and security needs has coincided increasingly with those of the other states within the region. Particular attention has been given to the Francophone states, who are the majority within West African and whose changing relationship with the metropole on the one hand, and with Nigeria on the other, is central to our analysis. The promise of the Ghana-Guinea Union was finally realised thanks to the growing cooperation after 1970 between Nigeria and Togo who, together, formed the nucleus of the West African community in 1972. Economic Integration in the 'seventies was also facilitated by (a) the reduced importance of ideological differences within the region; (b) the mounting economic difficulties confronting states as a result of the global economic crisis and increased oil prices after 1973, but alleviated by timely Nigerian assistance; (c) the example of regional integration within the EEC, soon to be expanded to include Britain; and (d) the successful outcome in 1975 of the Lome negotiations between the EEC and the African-Pacific-Caribbean states. The greater part of the thesis is concerned with the formation of ECOWAS and the negotiations, between July 1966 and May 1975, in which I was privileged to participate. While my own association with ECOWAS ended shortly afterwards, in July 1975, there was, fortunately, no such interruption in the development of the community. It seemed appropriate, therefore, to extend the scope of the thesis to encompass the first formative years of the community, 1975-1979, which saw the establishment of the principal ECOWAS institutions, the adoption of the more important protocols, and the first difficult steps towards their implementation.