Fundamental to this study is the issue of integration amongst and between nations and its imperativeness as a force for human development, especially with reference to emerging independent states of Africa. From the framework of the UN [United Nations], regional organizations are viewed as a major feature of contemporary global economic system. One of the basic purposes of such regional bodies is to make use of deliberate governmental and private sector efforts to strengthen south-south trade and economic links more rapidly than would be the case if such links were to be determined only by market forces [UNCTAD, 1986]
In this introductory segment of the study attempts to examine integration and the forces shaping the process amongst and within the disparate and independent nations of a geographical area so described and referred to as “West Africa” would be made. Very importantly too, the researcher’s approach to this study has also been viewed and governed by notable global integrative activities and pursuits well known and acknowledged, and which also culminated into a string of international integration efforts, processes and which in turn created world’s first generation international bodies such as the United Nations [UN], European Union [EU], Organization of African Union [now African Union – AU ], World Bank [WB], International Monetary Fund [IMF], South African Development Cooperation [SADC], Association of South East Asian Nations [ASEAN] etc. It is therefore not surprising that the Economic Community of West African States otherwise known
as ECOWAS and similar such bodies like the Southern African Development Community otherwise referred to as SADC are widely seen as “representing the globalization phenomenon” [CDD W/Paper, June 2002].
The most dramatic evidence of globalization is the increase in trade and movement of capital. From 1950-2001 the quantum of world exports rose over 20 times and by 2001 world trade amounted to a quarter of all the goods and services produced globally. In the early parts of the 1970s, only $10 billion to $20- billion in national currencies were exchanged daily. By the beginning of the 21st. century more than $1.5 trillion worth of Japanese Yen, Euros, Pound Sterling, Dollars and other currencies were effectively traded daily in order to support the expanded levels of global trade and investment [Goldstein: 1992, Robert: 2001, Eichen: 1998].
Globalization denotes a comprehensive term for the emergence of a global
society in which economic, political, environmental and cultural actions in one
part of the world quickly come to have implication for people in other parts of
the world. Globalization is therefore the result of a multifaceted advancement
in communication, transportation, and information technologies and it also
describes the growing economic, political, technological, and cultural linkages
that connect individuals, communities, businesses, and governments around the
world. The growth of MNCs [Multinational Corporations] or TNCs [Trans-National
Corporations], as organizations with operations or investments in many
countries, functioning in a global market place is an integral part of the
globalization phenomenon. As citizens of disparate nations we are culturally,
materially, and psychologically engaged with the lives of people in other countries
as never before, thus distant events often have an immediate and above all
significant impact, blurring the boundaries of our personal world [Eichen:
1998, Robert, 2001].
The idea of the West African community, according to history, goes back to the times of late William Tubman of Liberia who initially made the call in 1964. An agreement was signed between Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 1965, February, but this came to nothing. In April 1972, General Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria and Togo’s General Eyadema “re-launched the idea, drew up proposals, and toured 12 countries, soliciting their plan from July to august 1973” [www.ecowas.int]. Like a number of similar bodies, the founding fathers of the ECOWAS were not without a dream. The founding fathers of the ECOWAS body were motivated by global developments that emphasized coming together to boost the capacity of diverse nations for economic development and growth.
The successes and failures of regional organizations such as the ECOWAS need be closely focused, hence it is imperative to look at other integration experiences, as most of them are not showing signs of continued viability. Scholars have equally observed that despite the seeming differences between these categories of Regional Integration Arrangements [RIA] in terms of their motive forces, political settings and development path, an objective assessment of the experiences of the organizations would provide useful insights and perspectives for other organizations in deciding on their respective courses of development.
THE ECOWAS AND THE OF INTEGRATION IN THE WEST AFRICAN SUB-REGION : 1985 – 2005.