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14Nov2017

THE IMPACT OF ICT ON ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: A CASE STUDY OF THE ECOWAS PROTOCOL ON FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS GOODS AND SERVICES by Bala Musa Kaugama

ECOWAS Member States signed the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement (EPFM) on 1 May 1979. The objective of the
protocol is to abolish all forms of obstacles to free movement of persons, goods and
services within ECOWAS Member States. It was envisaged that the protocol would
facilitate cross-border movement and trade and ultimate economic integration of the West
African sub-region. However, more than two decades after its establishment, EPFM is
still fraught with numerous challenges. Some of these challenges include nonharmonization
of national laws and policies on migration, lack of border management
policy and corruption of border officials. Several researchers have proffered solutions to
the problems militating against the implementation of EPFM, but these problems still
persist. The experiences of some regional bodies such as EU and COMESA regarding the
adoption of ICT to enhance economic integration have proven that ICT has the potential
to mitigate some of the challenges of the EPFM. However, the ECOWAS is unable to
utilize ICT to enhance economic integration of the West African sub-region. This forms
the theme of this study titled ‘the impact of information and communication technology
on economic integration: a case study of the economic community of West African states
protocol on free movement of persons, goods and services’. The objective of the study is
to find strategies to facilitate rapid ICT expansion towards economic integration of West
African sub-region. The method of the research undertaken was descriptive and the nature
of data collected was qualitative. Data were collected from primary and secondary
sources using unstructured interviews and document analysis respectively. The collected
data were analysed qualitatively by logical reasoning and presented using statistical
frequency tables and charts where necessary. The study established that there is a strong
connection between ICT and economic integration and high-level awareness among West
African citizens about the potential of ICT to facilitate trade and economic integration.
Regrettably, low access to broadband Internet services, inadequate power supply and
inadequate institutional capacity have continued to hinder ECOWAS efforts towards
adopting ICT to achieve economic integration. The prospects included exploring ecommerce
and Nigerian telecommunication satellite. Strategies proffered were improved
power supply, reduced cost of deployment of terrestrial fibre optic cables and building
institutional capacity of frontline institutions. Some of the recommendations made
included development of efficient ICT policy and establishment of a regional training
centre for training border officials responsible for the enforcement of the EPFM.

  • 14 Nov, 2017
  • Ridwan Kadri
  • 0 Comments

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