ECOWAS Exodus: Implications of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger’s Withdrawal on the Progress of AfCFTA in Africa
According to reports, the departure of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso from ECOWAS, a regional economic alliance, could hinder meaningful progress on the negotiations on protocols relating to trade and investments.
Some economic experts have pointed out that these countries contribute little or none to the finances of ECOWAS and make up less than 20% of the economy of the body. Others argue that ECOWAS authorities should work in collaboration with these seceding nations to reintegrate them into the bloc, thereby bolstering security, stabilizing the economy, and advancing regional development.
Financial Analyst, Kalu Aja, shared on social media platform X that, “English” West Africa is fragmented, and “French” West Africa is more united. He points out that Francophone West African countries often regard ECOWAS as secondary to their relationship with “France.”
“For example, look at the Niger Republic; look how they are exporting their crude via Benin and Cameroon, avoiding, you know who. Look at their railways and see how the French-speaking nations avoid the “English” nations. Anyone thinking an ECOWAS translates to West Africa is not informed. landlocked? Laughable,” he posted on X.
Another X user @Ann_Tunji, shared, “Those asking about the usefulness of ECOWAS, A lot of Nigeria exporters use other West African ports because of the inefficiency of the Nigerian port. If ECOWAS collapse there will no longer be free movement of goods between countries, & the struggling sector will be affected.”
Tolu Ogunlesi, former special assistant on digital and new media to ex-president Muhammadu Buhari, emphasized on social media platform X that these three countries would forfeit their access to the ECOWAS Passport regime, which ensures visa-free travel within the bloc.
“These three countries are all landlocked, which means even further isolation,” he said.
The AfCFTA is a trade agreement among 55 AU members that creates a single market for goods and services across Africa, facilitates the free movement of people, and spurs economic growth and development across the continent.
The withdrawal of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso from the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) will no doubt be seen as a potential impediment to trade relations as many African countries may be compelled to seek markets beyond the continent, thereby rendering them susceptible to the interests of countries in the Global North