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THE PROBLEMS OF REGIONAL INTEGRATION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF AFRICA UNION AND ECOWAS
Background to the Study
The philosophy of the African Unity which underpins the African relations with itself and with the rest of the World states that “We are all African”. It was adapted from the Pan African movement whose aim was advocating a return to Africa of all Africans. The philosophy was essentially pioneered by the Africans born outside Africa and driven by the black intellectuals of African descent in the diasporas, mainly in the US, Caribbean and Europe. The defunct Or- ganization of African Unity (OAU) was established on the basis of this philosophy.
It is observed that there were competing visions of unity and integration between the founding fathers, who were also the heads of new states in Africa. These visions got on the way to nego- tiations on the future of the independent Africa as it was established. However, a compromise was reached, that allowed the borders between the states to be retained as they were inherited from the colonial masters and the establishment of the OAU. Consequently, the OAU was to be a loose forum where issues concerning Africa could be articulated. They also agreed to adhere to the principle of non-interference with the internal affairs of member‟s states. Further the es- tablishment of the OAU was grounded on the assumption that it was a vehicle for promotion of economic interactions among the African states, in addition to the pursuit of formal regional cooperation and integration efforts. Ndongko W. A. (1985. p3) This was viewed as an indispensable and practical starting point not only for the building of mutual trust but also to act as the glue that would bind the states closely together. It was also to be the starting point for economic ties through cooperation and integration and thereafter pave the way for ultimate African political unity.
Ndongko observes that the creation of European Economic Community (EEC) by the Europe- an states and the Latin America Free Trade Area demonstrated both the necessity and possibility of regional economic cooperation in Africa. Ndongko W. A. (1985. p3) This was the position held during the conference of the African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3rd May, 1963. The 32 new African leaders then inaugurated the Organization of Africa Unity, (OAU)Mangachi M W (2011). Among the African founding fathers, who believed and advocated for the African unity were Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania. On one hand, Nkrumah advocated for United States of Africa that would be free from colonial fragmented nation states. He clearly understood the potential for a continental powerhouse by uniting all of Africa3. On the other hand, Mwalimu Nyerere did not see the essence of a fragmented Africa into small nation states. Nyerere treasured a strong belief, in that only uniting Africa could power be established to en- gage in other challenges faced by the Africans in their new states4.
The Lagos Plan of Action of 1980 encouraged regional integration bodies to prepare the way for the overall unification of Africa. However, fifty years later Muhammar Gaddafi of Libya called for African leaders to retrace the steps of Nkrumah by uniting the African states. Just like Nkrumah, Gaddafi envisioned a prosperous Africa in all fields of economics, politics, so- cial and ideology. In this view therefore, it was necessary to do away with OAU which had achieved its mandate of successfully lifting the colonial yoke off the shoulders of Africans. Gaddafi called for a paradigm shift for a new organization to replace OAU, and thus the birth of African Union (AU), in the African heads of states summit in South Africa in 2002 attended by all 53 states of Africa. On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the 54th African Union mem- ber. The AU therefore inherited all the inherent challenges of the OAU. This did not dim the dis- cussions and the desire to forge forward with the sub-regional bodies. Africa continent has fourteen multiplicity of treaties some functional and others dormant. Their importance cannot be over emphasized since they are fostering the African vision of Regional Economic Commu- nities (REC) and are tools or instruments of development and collective security. Globalization is enhancing the world to become much more regionalized and in this view the African region- al arrangements are assets for trade investment and economic bargaining for the member states. Regional bodies enable countries to pull resources together in order to achieve a common re- gional interest which in the long run makes it possible for the member states to realize some of their national interest with ease. Regional integration organizations in Africa have made it pos- sible for the African Nations to have power to negotiate terms through international relations, either bilaterally or multilaterally, i.e. terms of trade, peace and security, conservation of flora and fauna, Carbon credit due to climate change, developmental loans, foreign developmental investment and many more.
History of ECOWAS
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was created by the Treaty of Lagos in Lagos, Nigeria, on May, 28, 1975. It had its roots in earlier attempts at a West African economic community in the 1960s and was spearheaded by Yakuba Gowon of Nigeria and Gnassigbe Eyadema of Togo. The primary purpose of ECOWAS is to promote economic trade, national cooperation, and monetary union, for growth and development throughout West Africa.
A revised treaty intended to accelerate the integration of economic policy and improve political cooperation was signed on July 24, 1993. It set out the goals of a common economic market, a single currency, the creation of a West African parliament, economic and social councils, and a court of justice. The court primarily interprets and mediates disputes over ECOWAS policies and relations, but has the power to investigate alleged human rights abuses in member countries.
Statement of the Problem
The importance of Regional Integration organizations in Africa cannot be overemphasized since they contribute to sustainable development, a case of ECOWAS and AU is at hand. However, the re- gional integration organizations in Africa are at different stages of integration implementing agendas, consequently, the concept of regional integration varies considerably. Edwin Mtei (2011 p30-46) .Nevertheless, the ultimate goal for the most African regions economic blocks is to achieve continental economic and political integration. According to Haas to achieve the realities of regional integration states are persuaded to shift their loyalties, expectations and political activities to a new centre of power. Ernst B. Haas (1958 p.16)In other words, existing member states would be required to cede sovereign- ty to the central power so created.
Africa continues to face serious economic and developmental challenges in putting in place effective and sustainable regional and continental integration framework that can become an effective tool for human development, regional and continental security. The emerging dynam- ics of the known regional integration challenges and prospects therefore need to be identified, examined and analyzed. Such phenomenon as emigration, xenophobia, international terrorism, globalization, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and China projects in Africa, media and public opinion, multiplicity of RIAs, political leadership, State sovereignty, donor aid dependency vis-à-vis poverty in Africa, refugees‟ problems and other emerging issues that complicate or create challenges to regional integration in Africa demand an insightful analysis. This can be done by revisiting the challenges and prospects of regional integration in Africa in order to analyze the emerging ones and determine prospects of these organizations in the future.
1) What are the challenges and prospects that limit regional integrations in Africa?
2) What challenges and prospects do the Regional Integration Arrangements in Africa face?
What are the specific challenges and prospects that face EAC?
The Overall Objective Of The Study Is To Examine The Problems Of Regional Integration: A Comparative Study Of AFRICA UNION AND ECOWAS with a view to recommending the way forward. Specific objectives are:
1) To determine the challenges and prospects that limit regional integration arrangements in Africa.
2) To examine the challenges and prospects that face regional integration arrangements in Africa.
3) To examine and analyze the challenges and prospects of regional integration that face ECOWAS and AU.
Justification of the Study
- Academic: The study findings contribute to the body of knowledge by determining challenges and prospects that if addressed appropriately could lead to effectiveness of regional integration arrangements in Africa.
- Policy: The study findings and recommendations could contribute to improving national foreign policy with respect to African member states to a regional integration arrangement, especially on the aspect of rationalizing membership to multiplicity of regional integrations arrangements.