This paper was first presented by Francisca Serwaa Boateng at the Annual Conference of the Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) sponsored by ECOWAS in Banjul, the Gambia in May, 2010.
The contents of this article have become even more relevant in recent times in the light of the creation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is set to be implemented in January 2020. The issues addressed herein are still prevalent on the continent and they need to be addressed to ensure the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Economic Community of West African States
Economic Commission for Africa
Economic Report for Africa 2010
Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Ghana Investment Promotion Council
Improved Road Transport Governance
United States Agency for International Development
Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program
Current statistics indicate that intra-ECOWAS trade is currently about 11%, which is nothing to write home about. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s 2010 Economic Report for Africa (ERA 2010), intra-African trade continued to be minimal, at less than 10 per cent of total trade in 2009. Africa continued to play a marginal role in world trade in 2009with about a 3.4 per cent share of global merchandise trade and an insignificant share in trade in services. Commodities continue to be the major exports, and export destinations remain concentrated in industrialized countries, although South-east Asia and Brazil are beginning to be important destinations for African exports. The reliance on a narrow range of commodities as well as a narrow range of export markets makes African export earnings extremely vulnerable to volatility in these markets.
In the current global system, the need for enhanced trade among members of the regional body cannot be over-emphasised. It makes business and economic sense for all stakeholders to appreciate the importance of allowing free flow of trade in the ECOWAS sub-region with the resultant growth in GDP, employment creation and poverty alleviation. Furthermore, in this era of increased international cooperation and trade, where countries are removing barriers to trade to give their companies unhindered access to larger markets such as the European Union, ASEAN, NAFTA, the ECOWAS region cannot continue to be just a group of fragmented markets failing to empower its companies to be competitive internationally and play a role in the development of the region.
The effect of the recent global economic downturn on African economies even make it more imperative for African nations to trade among themselves and harness their own resources for development instead of relying on other nations. The Economic Report for Africa (ERA 2010) opines thus:
"The current global economic crisis has demonstrated the vulnerability of Africa to the fortunes of the global economy. It has also demonstrated that Africa cannot rely on external sources to finance its development in a sustainable way. There is therefore a need for African countries to increase their efforts to mobilize domestic resources to finance development. In the final analysis,Africa's development is the responsibility of Africans, and the argument that Africa is a poor continent that cannot finance its own development is getting tired."