COLONIAL BOUNDARIES AND ECONOMIC INTEGRATION IN AFRICA WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE AEC AND ECOWAS TREATIES

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COLONIAL BOUNDARIES AND ECONOMIC INTEGRATION IN AFRICA WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE AEC AND ECOWAS TREATIES

Abstract:

Africa’s existing international boundaries are a product of the colonial partition in the 19th Century. Following independence, the colonial territories became sovereign nation states divided by the lines of colonial demarcation along with a series of commercial, linguistic, political and legal barriers. These barriers, imposed and reinforced by the international law regime relating to state boundaries, and sovereignty constitute impediments to inter-state or intra-regional intercourse and overall economic development on the continent. One major obstacle has been the narrow territorial frameworks or limited internal markets of individual countries which hamper economies of scale, higher productivity and international competitiveness. Several regional economic co-operation projects have been tried within the context of existing international law and inter-state diplomacy with little or no success. This work is an effort to assess current efforts at regional economic integration at the continental and sub-regional levels against the background of the rules governing international boundaries and their impact on inter-state or intraregional economic relations. Particular alien!ion is focused on the Treaties establishing the African Economic Community (1991) and the Economic Community of West African States (1975 as revised in 1993). Chapter one is the general introduction. It sets out the conceptual framework and objectives of the the work; the research problem and scope of the work. It also highlights the significance of the study, and its methodology. Chapter Two deals with the history of border and economic relations in Africa. It attempts to provide historical glimpses into the state of pre-colonial political economy and trade on the continent before the contact with Europe from about the 14th century. It also examines the notion of boundaries in Africa’s precolonial political formations. Lastly it looks at the European penetration and subsequent colonisation of Africa and their impact on indigenous commercial intercourse and state organisation. Chapter Three looks at the legal implications of independence for colonial territories in Africa and the associated problems of legal title to territory arising from the principles of classical international law. The chapter also examines the problems of stale boundaries in African economic relations especially in connection with informal transborder trade. Chapter Four considers the historical background to the idea of continental economic integration in Africa. It discusses existing integration projects on the continent. It also attempts to outline the legal framework, structure, status and scope of the African Economic Community as reflected in the Abuja Treaty of Chapter five examines the provisions of the Abuja Treaty which seek to address the constraints to inter-state or intra-regional trade, namely the rules stipulating for freedom of movement, residence and establishment for citizens of member states in each other’s territory. These are compared to free movement regimes in other regions and the legal harmonisation framework that supports those regimes. Chapter Six addresses the problems of integration in Africa with particular reference to the experiences of ECOWAS. Strict border maintenance policies and undue attachment to notions of sovereignty are identified as the major obstacles to integration against the socioeconomic realities in the sub-region. Chapter seven then identifies the major responses to the prevalence of strict border regimes in the Nigerian and African contexts and evaluates these against the wider imperatives of continental economic integration. It recommends an enabling framework for transborder co-operation that may be adopted from the European model. Chapter Eight summarises the major recommendations of the thesis. It concludes by reiterating the desirability of economic integration in Africa and the necessity for instituting more liberal border management policies that would reduce the negative, exclusionary functions of international boundaries on the continent while promoting free movement and intra-regional intercourse across the continent.

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