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The Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) was established as a regional initiative to facilitate economic growth and development in the West Africa (Adetula, 2009). As captured in the 1975 Treaty, the main aim of ECOWAS was: To promote cooperation and development in all fields of economic activity particularly in the fields of industry transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions and in social and cultural matters for the purpose of raising the standard of its people, of increasing and maintaining economic stability, of fostering closer relations among its members and of contributing to the progress and development of the African continent.In this effect, though there has been an argument that the issues of peace and security might not have been directly taken up in the treaty that gave birth to ECOWAS, yet it did not mean that such issues were altogether ignored by the founders of ECOWAS (Sessay, 2002). Terwase, Abdul-Talib and Zengeni (2014), relate their work to the endowed resources in Nigeria and other West African countries that are still untapped while many people are in search of job opportunities in the case of Nigeria. In the said country which is the most populated state in West Africa and the host of ECOWAS Headquarters Which is located in Abuja, the country is richly blessed with both human and natural resources; however, her overdependence on oil has left other resources untapped while her people in the rural communities or villages live within endowed resources but die of poverty and lack. Like most ‘integration groupings’ before it, ECOWAS was intended more as an instrument for the establishment of a free trade area than an organ of economic development per se. This position has now changed, and one of the significant invisible achievements of ECOWAS is the acceptance of member states in practice to make the community a vehicle for promoting and accelerating economic development. An indication of this is the adoption by the community of a common development policy. Sub-regional cooperation programs and policies have been adopted in the spheres of physical infrastructure development, agricultural development, industrialization and monetary cooperation (Langhammer and Ulrich 1990). The economic integration of developing countries such as Nigeria into global markets offers the opportunity for rapid growth and poverty reduction (Martinez and Poole, 2004), but it also entails risks. ECOWAS was established as a regional economic community (REC) with the main objective of developing a single regional economic atmosphere in West Africa through integration and collective self-reliance. The organization was set up mainly for the achievement of economic goals of harmonization and coordination of national policies. However, there have been multiple political, economic and security challenges militating against the success of the organization since its establishment. This includes the high rate of poverty in the region and the effects of civil war, weak states, transnational insurgencies, terrorism, environmental degradation, drug trafficking, arms smuggling and trafficking, and political instability (Aladen.d.). The poor infrastructure, transport, and communication systems linking ECOWAS countries are woefully inadequate in all the member countries and would probably slow the pace of cooperation and integration. Roads, rails and telecommunication systems were built to serve individual countries instead of linking the various countries. If a major industry is to be established, there is need for such infrastructures prior to its establishment (Langhammer and Ulrich 1990). The overriding needs to accelerate, foster and encourage rapid economic growth and social development of their states in order to improve the living standards of their peoples” (Diejomaoh and Iyoha, 1980).  The primary instrumentality for achieving this desirable objective of rapid economic development was the establishment of a customs union entailing internal free trade among members, a common external tariff, free labour mobility, free movement of services and capital between member states (Diejomaoh and Iyoha, 1980). There are key factors that have hampered the trade performance of most African countries (ECOWAS members inclusive). For instance, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2015) identified the fundamental factors limiting Africa’s trade to include the continent’s narrow production and export base dominated by low-value products such as raw materials and primary commodities, very high trade costs, tariff and non-tariff barriers to intra-African trade and Africa’s limited access to international market. Furthermore, the poor performance of the region in world trade is often reflected in her marginal share in global exports.


From its very beginning, ECOWAS hasn’t been effective. The organization did not have established foundations to deal with logistics, infrastructure, human resources, or strong economy that were needed to realistically promote a regional body. Nigeria is the linchpin of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Over 50% of the ECOWAS population lives in Nigeria. Nigeria’s GDP is larger than that of the combined GDP of all the other ECOWAS states put together. Nigeria accounts for the lion share of the annual ECOWAS budget (31%; relative to only 12.6% by the second highest contributor- Cote d’ivoire), as well as of the ECOWAS Fund (32% relative to only 13% by Cote d’iviore) (Aribisala (2013) The pre- eminence of the Nigerian economy vis-à-vis the other ECOWAS states, and its correspondingly large financial responsibilities (among others), inevitably raises the question of the value of ECOWAS for Nigeria. Many regional integration schemes have been established in Africa in the bid to attain a market number more than half the size of Nigeria. Moreover, Nigeria’s domestic industrial production is still insufficient to accommodate the vast demand of its internal market, how much more to provide for significant exports to neighboring ECOWAS states. The effectiveness of this regional organization has not really been felt, Nigeria is still having economic problem. The research work looked at the factors that are preventing West African countries including Nigeria from achieving the ECOWAS roles in economic development.


The major aim of the study is to examine the role of ECOWAS in the economic development of West African state. Other specific objectives of the study include;

1.  To examine the objectives of ECOWAS in West African states

2.  To identify measures use by ECOWAS in developing the economy of West African states

3.  To examine challenges of ECOWAS in developing of the Nigerian Economy

4.  To identify the various roles of ECOWAS in economic development of West African states

5.  To recommend solutions to the challenges of ECOWAS in economic development of West African states.


1.  What are the objectives of ECOWAS in West African states?

2.  What are the measures used by ECOWAS in developing the economy of West African states?

3.  What are the challenges of ECOWAS in developing of the Nigerian Economy?

4.  What is the role of ECOWAS in economic development of West African states?

5.  What are the solutions to the challenges of ECOWAS in economic development of West African states?


H0: ECOWAS has no significant role on the economic development of West African states

H1: ECOWAS has a significant role on the economic development of West African states.


The findings of this research will transcend beyond mere academic brainstorming, but will be of immense benefit to Federal Agencies, state agencies, policy makers; intellectual researchers that occasionally prescribe and suggest policy options to the government on economic issues. This research work will also serve as a guide and provide insight for further research on this topic and related field. It will educate the public on various government policies related to economic issues. This study wills not only benefit the above mentioned but it would also benefit economic institutions and financial institutions, students and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.


This study is restricted to the role of ECOWAS in the Economic development of West African state, a case of Nigeria.


Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)

Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States; an economic association established in 1975 whose members are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cô te d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Mauritania joined but withdrew in 2002.

Economic Development: Economic development is a wider concept and has qualitative dimensions. Economic development implies economic growth plus progressive changes in certain important variables which determine well-being of the people, e.g: health, education.

West Africa: Western Africa, region of the western African continent comprising the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

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