The author tries to explain why monetary cooperation and integration have been difficulty to achieve among member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He shows how different interest groups--both members and nonmembers--have over time influenced policies and positions on various ECOWAS member states. Unfortunately, most negotiations for cooperation among ECOWAS member states have a much better monetary cooperation and integration program, mainly because of France's active support and participation in negotiations, mediation, and consensus building. Unfortunately, Nigeria-which has been the main force behind bilingual regional integration in West Africa--has a different agenda from France. Its promotion of a bilingual economic grouping in West Africa was in part an attempt to reduce France's influence in West Africa, so France is unlikely to allow economic and monetary cooperation and integration along Nigerian lines. The fact that Nigeria is still a weak state does not help. The choice for francophone West African countries is therefore between closer ties with France--which has provided development aid, ensured currency convertibility, and guaranteed monetary stability in those francophone countries--and closer ties with Nigeria (which has done none of the above for itself, much less for its neighbors). The increasing convergence of macroeconomic indices among ECOWAS member countries--which is essential for monetary cooperation and integration--has come about largely because of events outside of ECOWAS or because of externally (International Monetary Fund) imposed structural adjustment programs. France's support is essential for the development of a meaningful ECOWAS.
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