The world has gone through periods of economic and financial crises at different points in recorded history. These crises has been attributed to events such as the collapse of the American real estate market circa 2008 which led to the recent economic recession that spread to other parts of the world. Globalization means that a financial crisis in one country more often than not spreads to other countries and if not arrested on time, can lead to a worldwide economic crisis.
Regional integration is one of the strategies used by governments to counteract the negative effects of economic and financial crisis. The African continent has not been left behind in the regional integration process. African leaders have over the years realized that integration of the scattered economies of the continent is one of the ways to realize economic and human development. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the continent has many regional integration projects that are undergoing (Negasi, 2009). The African Union under whose auspices these regional integrations are taking place is mandated with the role of organizing and rationalizing the integration efforts (Oyejide, 2000).
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (herein referred to as CEMAC) is such one example of a regional integration body in Africa. The acronyms of the organization are derived from its French name Communaute Economique et Monetaire de l’Afrique Centrale as well as its name in Portuguese (Comunidade Economica e Monetaria da Africa Central). The organization was originally started by six member states from Central Africa. These are central Africa Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Chad and Gabon (Dramani, 2011). The major aim of these states was to enhance economic integration among them. The member states use a common currency, the CFA Franc. The organization was officially established in June 1999 as a result of an agreement between the member states that was signed in 1994 (Negasi, 2009).
According to Zafar & Kubota (2003), CEMAC member states possess common traits that set them apart from other economies in Africa. For example, they have a low population, with a combined total population of slightly more than thirty million. The economies have also registered slow growth in per capita income as compared with other countries in Africa. The economies also depend heavily on oil products more than other natural resources, meaning that they are vulnerable to fluctuations in global oil prices.
The current study is going to look at the impact of regional integration in Africa with a bias in central Africa. The study will use CEMAC as the case study, emphasizing the impacts that the organization has especially on trade, human migration and border control.
Background of the Study
Summary of Literature
In article titled Assessing Regional Integration in Africa, the United Nations Commission for Africa [UNECA] (2010) notes that regional integration has emerged as a key strategy that is being used by African economies to enhance the growth of their disjointed and small economies. It is also a strategy that has been adopted in an effort to expand the market for their goods and services as well as widening the economic space of the continent. It is also noted that African governments aims to benefit from economies of scale by integrating their economies, as well as to maximize the welfare of their citizenry.
These are some of the issues that were behind the formation of CEMAC in central Africa in 1999. The member states were aiming at increasing their competition in the global market as well as to benefit from foreign technology that can be easily accessed when member states comes together (Oyejide, 2000).
In his article Policies for Regional Integration in Africa, Oyejide (2000) notes that African states have made several efforts to integrate their economies at a regional and continental level. These efforts are manifest themselves in various treaties that have been signed by African leaders since independence. A case in point is the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community which was signed in the year 1991 (Negasi, 2009) as well as the Constitutive Act of the African Union that came into effect in the year 2000 (Ngeleza & Muhammad, 2009).
In their article titled Preferential Trade Agreements between the Monetary Community of Central Africa and the European Union, Ngeleza & Muhammad (2009) note that integration organizations in central Africa such as CEMAC are face a challenge when it comes to ranking their trade policies on one hand and meeting demands that are brought about by their participation in regional and international market. Many scholars such as Anadi (2005) and Dramani (2011) are of the view that liberalization of trade within a multilateral context has more economic and social benefits to the countries as opposed to other forms of liberalization. The World Trade Organization (herein referred to as WTO) requires trade grants and concession that are given to one party in a multilateral trade agreement to be extended to other parties that are signatory to the agreement (International Monetary Fund [IMF], 2005). This is the reason why African countries that are signatory to international trade agreements stands to benefit from such treaties.
On the other hand, regional integration can be conceptualized as being more discriminatory when compared with international and multilateral trade agreements. According to the United Nations Development Program [UNDP] (2011), grants and concessions are only extended to members of the regional integration body while excluding non-members. This exclusion results into a simultaneous diversion and creation of trade (UNECA, 2010). The benefits that member states accrue from regional integration are reduced if trade diversion surpasses trade creation and vice versa. From an international multilateral trade agreement perspective, it can be argued that regional integration efforts in Africa and elsewhere reduces the benefits that such economies can accrue from international trade.
The existence of CEMAC in central Africa can be analyzed against this background. Analysts will ask themselves whether the organization has benefited citizens of the member states or not. If the benefits are discernible, then analysts will try to identify which aspects of the regional integration are more beneficial than the others and what can be done to exploit them more. If the benefits are not evident, analysts will try to identify factors that impeded the achievement of the organization goals and objectives and identify how these challenges can be overcome.
According to Wakeman-Linn, Portillo, Lossitov & Milkov (2009), CEMAC has had little if any impact on the social front. It is a fact beyond doubt that steady economic growth has been recorded in the CEMAC zone, but this has had no impact on poverty levels in central Africa. For example in Congo, it is only 30 percent of the population that lives above the international poverty line. Gankou & Ntah (2008) puts the number of those living below the poverty line in Cameroon at 46 percent and about 63 percent in Chad. About 30 percent of citizens from the organization’s member states are faced by hunger and nutritional deficiencies as of 2009 (Technical Center for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation [CTA], 2011).
Gaps and Deficiencies in Prior Research
Many studies carried out on CEMAC have focused on the effects that the organization has had on the economic and political front. Others have addressed the social impacts of this organization in the region. However, most of these studies have been quantitative in nature, relying more on statistics and numbers. Very few studies have addressed the impacts that CEMAC has had on the region’s trade and human migration from a qualitative perspective. Many studies have used structural VAR model (for example Dramani ), Edward’s 1989 dynamic model (for example IMF ), Global Analysis Project Model among others. These models are more quantitative than they are qualitative.
It is only a few scholars such as Gankou & Ntah (2008) that have used qualitative methods to analyze the impacts of CEMAC on the region’s economic and social fronts. The proposed study will adopt a SWOT Analysis methodology to look at the impacts of CEMAC on central Africa. Gankou & Ntah (2008) used SWOT analysis to analyze the internal and external environments of CEMAC. The proposed study will take a different direction. It will especially go a step further to analyze how the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by CEMAC has affected the organization’s impact on trade and human migration (including border control) in central Africa.
Few studies have also addressed the impacts of CEMAC on human migration in central Africa. This deficiency will be addressed in the proposed study as the researcher will look at how the external and internal environment of CEMAC has impacted on human migration and border control.
Importance of the Proposed Study
As earlier indicated, many studies conducted on CEMAC have tended to be quantitative in nature as opposed to being qualitative. There is need to carry out a qualitative study to improve on the literature that has accumulated in this field over the years. The proposed study will go a long way in achieving this. The findings of this study will be important to governments of the six countries that constitute CEMAC. The governments (and in extension CEMAC secretariat) will use the findings of this study to exploit the strengths of the organization while improving on the weaknesses.
There are a number of factors that affects the impacts (both positive and negative impacts) that CEMAC has on central Africa. Some of these factors are internal while others are external. Additionally, some of the factors are positive while others are negative.
Researchers such as Gankou & Ntah (2008) contend that regional integration in this part of the world has a long history than in other parts of Africa. CEMAC can use this history to accelerate the rate of economic and political integration in central Africa. CEMAC can also take advantage of the various initiatives and projects in the region that has the potential of enhancing regional integration. A case in point is the pipeline project that is expected to connect Cameroon and Chad (CTA, 2011). The pipeline is expected to cost more than 3 billion US dollars and has the potential of opening up Chad which is a landlocked country.
However, there are some factors that impede the efforts of CEMAC at regional integration in central Africa. One of them is the political rivalry that is evident among the member states (Zafar & Kubota, 2003). This is for example when the states compete to see which one will emerge leader in the region. The rivalry manifested itself in the formation of a regional financial market in Libreville Gabon and a national one in Douala Cameroon (CTA, 2011). These competing financial markets are not good for regional integration in the region.
There is also rampant insecurity in most central African states. This is another challenge to regional integration that is faced by CEMAC. For example, Chad and Congo have gone through periods of civil wars which affect their participation in regional integration efforts.
The late Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was one of the African leaders that were pushing for a creation of a United States of Africa that will see African states come together not unlike what is seen in USA. The push for such a continental integration is a positive factor that CEMAC can take advantage of to achieve regional integration. It is also noted that factors such as the rise of oil prices on the international market can help CEMAC in achieving regional integration. This is given the fact that most CEMAC economies are dependent on oil, and as such, increase in the price of the commodity will lead to improved foreign earnings.
The factors analyzed above have affected the performance of CEMAC so far. For example, trade between the member states has increased although it remains low by international standards (McCarthy, 2002). The inability to establish a common market is another failure that has been faced by this organization.
The proposed study will use a SWOT analysis approach to investigate how these external and internal factors have affected the impact of CEMAC on the region.
Purpose of the Study
In this section, the researcher is going to discuss the design of the proposed study as well as the intent or objectives of the same. The central phenomenon of the study will be defined and discussed.
- Research Design
As already indicated in this paper, this study is qualitative in nature. This being the case, the research design will also be qualitative in nature.
There are several qualitative research designs available to the researcher. This includes narrative design which involves the exploration of the life and existence of an entity (Baxter & Jack, 2008). Another qualitative research design is phenomenology which involves the comprehension of the various aspects of a phenomenon. Grounded theory is a third qualitative research design that involves the formulation of a theory that is drawn from data collected in the field. Baxter & Jack (2008) identifies a fourth qualitative research design which is ethnography. This involves the description and interpretation of a cultural or social group that is observed.
The proposed study will use the fourth category of qualitative research design as identified by Baxter & Jack (2008). This is the case study research design. According to these scholars, this research design involves an in-depth assessment of one or more cases.
Case studies can take either of two directions. The first one is an explanatory case study which according to Baxter & Jack (2008) involves the analysis of causation. The major aim is to identify underlying principles in a case which may be prospective or retrospective. The latter involves the establishment of criteria to pick cases from historical records which are included in the research. The former involves the establishment of criteria and cases that fit this criterion are incorporated in the study as they are accessed by the researcher. A descriptive case study on its part merely describes or provides an in-depth narrative of various aspects of the selected case.
The current study is going to take the form of an explanatory case study which is retrospective in nature. The CEMAC integration bloc in central Africa will be taken as the case for this study. The case study will be explanatory since the researcher will be exploring the internal and external factors that affect the impact of CEMAC on trade and human migration in central Africa. The case study will be retrospective since the researcher will be selecting the case (CEMAC) from historical records (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
- Intent of the Study
As earlier indicated, the major aim of a case study research design is to provide an in-depth analysis of the selected case or cases. This being an explanatory case study, the researcher will be exploring the internal and external factors that affect the impacts of CEMAC on trade and human migration in central Africa. The major aim or intent of the study is to find out the underlying principles as far as CEMAC and its impacts on trade and human migration (including border control) in central Africa are concerned.
- Central Phenomenon of the Study
According to Baxter & Jack (2008), a qualitative research revolves around a central phenomenon identified by the researcher. The central phenomenon can be identified as the issue that is addressed by the study. It can be equated to the research objective in quantitative studies or the major concept around which the study revolves. A case study is no different. It is noted that an individual case is made up of multiple facets. The facet or facets of the case that are addressed in the case study becomes the study’s central phenomenon.
The central phenomenon in this study is the impacts of regional integration in central Africa. Since the study is taking CEMAC as its case study, the central phenomenon in this study is then the impacts that CEMAC has on trade and human migration among the member states.
- Definition of Central Phenomenon
As indicated in the section above, the central phenomenon of a case study is the central issue around which the study revolves. In this study, the central phenomenon is identified as the impact of regional integration in central Africa. This is especially so the impacts that CEMAC has on trade and human migration among the member states. The central phenomenon will be addressed by analyzing the internal and external factors that affect the effectiveness of CEMAC in the region.
This study will be guided by 6 research questions. The study has one central question and 5 sub questions that will be answered by collecting data in the study. The questions will inform the direction that will be taken by the study given the fact that the researcher will be focused on addressing these questions.
The following are the central and sub questions:
- Central Question
What are the impacts of regional integration in Central Africa?
- Sub Questions
- What are the impacts of CEMAC on trade and human migration (including border control) among the member states?
- Are the CEMAC state members in partnership or in competition?
- What are the internal factors affecting the impact of CEMAC on trade and human migration among member states?
- What are the external factors affecting the impact of CEMAC on trade and human migration among member states?
- How can CEMAC exploit its strengths to achieve its objectives among member states?
- How can CEMAC address the weaknesses that hinder the achievement of its goals and objectives among member states?
The proposed study will be guided by economic theories of integration. The study will use the principles of this theory to analyze how internal and external factors affect CEMAC’s impact among member states as far as trade and human migration (including border control) is concerned.
- Theoretical Framework on Impacts of Regional Integration in Central Africa
Economic integration theory notes that regional integration can have two effects on the member state. The first are static effects which according to Maruping (2005) arise from allocation of resources that is brought about by fluctuating relative prices. The second are dynamic effects arising from changes in efficiency of the member states’ economies. Dynamic effects are also brought about by the ability of the member states to take advantage of economies of scale as well as increased investment among the member states (Bongyu, 2009).
- Static Effects of Regional Integration
This theoretical framework works on the assumption that economies can increase their productive efficiency if they concentrate their efforts in production of goods and services in which they have an edge over other nations (Soludo, Ogbu & Chang, 2004). By doing this, the nation states are able to rationalize their costs and prices, improving their production further.
Contemporary economic theories of regional integration regard trade tariffs and quotas as inimical to the exchange of goods and services among the member states (Soludo et al, 2004). Nation states are aware of these impediments brought about by tariffs and quotas. Given the fact that the countries are reluctant to completely liberalize their economies due to various internal and external factors, they have to come up with an alternative. This they do by forming regional trade blocs that are aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of quotas and tariffs.
The creation of an economic bloc leads to changes that take place immediately before and after it comes into effect. These changes are what economist theorists refer to as static effects. The changes can take the form of either trade creation or trade diversion (Hansohm et al, 2004). The former takes place when high cost production is replaced with low cost production as a result of regional amalgamation of resources. On the other hand, the latter takes place when low cost production is replaced with high cost production also as direct result of pooling of production resources.
The static effects determine whether the welfare of the member states will improve as a result of regional integration or not. Proponents of regional integration are of the view that it improves the welfare of the nation states by creating trade. On the other hand, opponents are of the view that the benefits of trade creation might be eroded by the costs of trade diversion leading to a deterioration of the member states’ welfare (Mutasa, 2004).
- Dynamic Effects of Regional Integration
Dynamic effects of regional integration are gradual but they persist for a long period of time when compared to the static effects. One of them is competition which results from imports sourced from other members’ economies (Mutasa, 2004). Another is the new investments that take place following the opening up of economies to investors from member countries.
Dynamic effects are seen to persist even after the country withdraws from the regional integration bloc. This is especially so if the member state is able to sustain the growth rate sparked by its participation in the integration bloc. These are some of the issues that are cited by proponents of regional integration both in Africa and other parts of the world. This is given the fact that the benefits riding on dynamic effects are able to neutralize the negative impacts that come with static effects (Hansohm et al, 2004).
- Previous Applications of Economic Theory of Integration
Several studies in this field have made use of this economic theory of regional integration. For example, Negasi (2009) used this theory in his study titled Trade Effects of Regional Economic Integration in Africa: The Case of SADC. He uses this theory to explain how SADC has affected trade in South African countries. There are other contemporary scholars who have used this theory. This is for example Viner in 1995 (as cited in Oyejide, 2000) who concentrates more on the static effects of regional integration. This is especially trade creation and trade diversion which he cites conspicuously in his study (Maruping, 2005).
Other scholars include Cline in 1978 (as cited in Negasi, 2009) that identifies other non-conventional static impacts of regional integration such as foreign exchange savings and labor opportunity. The identification of labor opportunity as one impact of regional integration is especially seminal for the current study. This is given the fact that the researcher is going to analyze the impacts of CEMAC on human migration among member states. Human migration is synonymous with movement of labor across the border which is also affected by border control (Yongzheng & Gupta, 2005).
- Major Propositions of the Theory
The major propositions of this theory have already been given in section 6(a) above. One major assumption is the fact that regional integration leads to dynamic and static impacts. The latter takes place immediately before and after the formation of the regional integration bloc. Dynamic effects occur gradually and they may persist even after the nation withdraws from the union. The theory also assumes that factors such as trade tariffs and quotas are unfavorable for regional integration.
- How does the Economic Theory of Integration Relate to the Current Study?
This study is going to assess how internal and external factors affect the impact that CEMAC has on the member states. One major area that will be addressed in this study is the effect of CEMAC on trade among the member states. It is noted that the economic theory of regional integration addresses the immediate and long term effects of regional integration. CEMAC is an economic regional integration bloc in Africa, and as such, the principles espoused in this theory will be applicable to it. Scholars such as Cline (as cited above) have included in the theory the probable effects of regional integration on labor movement. This aspect of this theory will be important in analyzing the impacts of CEMAC on labor movement among the member states.
Nature of the Study
In this section, the researcher will provide the reader with information regarding design of the study, methodology that will be used, sampling techniques and limitations of the methodology as well as the ethical considerations in the study.
- Research Design
- Research Paradigm
This study will be qualitative in nature. It is noted that a lot of studies that have been carried out in this field have adopted a quantitative design. This study will analyze impacts of regional integration from a qualitative perspective.
- Research Design
As already indicated in earlier sections in this paper, there are five qualitative research designs that a researcher can make use of. This study is going to make use of a case study qualitative research design. CEMAC will be taken as the case for this study. The research will be an explanatory and retrospective case study of CEMAC in central Africa.
- Why use Case Study?
The case study design was preferred since the desire of the researcher is to come up with an in-depth analysis of CEMAC and its impacts on trade and human migration among member states. The researcher realized that other qualitative research designs such as narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory and ethnography will not be appropriate for this study. This is given that these designs fail to provide an in-depth analysis of a case that is selected.
The study will use all the six member states of CEMAC. These include Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Congo and Equatorial Guinea (UNDP, 2011). The researcher will consult and analyze literature and official CEMAC documents and statistics available from CEMAC’s secretariat in Bangui, Central Africa Republic. This technique is similar to that used by Anadi (2005) while studying the impacts of ECOWAS in West Africa.
Scholars in various universities in the selected countries, customs and immigration officials, traders as well as travelers will also be participants in this study.
The study will take place on several locations. The researcher will begin by consulting literature from the university’s library. A field visit will then be made to CEMAC secretariat at Bangui, Central Africa Republic. Here, additional literature, documents and statistics will be accessed. Further field visits will be made to the six countries selected for this study. It is in these countries that scholars, business persons, customs and immigration officials as well as travelers will be selected to participate in the study.
- Researcher’s Role in Data Collection
The researcher will play a very central role in data collection. They will visit the library as well as the six countries to collect data. In addition to analyzing literature, the researcher will also make observations and conduct informal interviews to identify the external and internal factors that affect CEMAC’s impact on the member states.
- Sampling Technique
A combination of purposive and random sampling will be used for the study. The six countries will be purposively sampled on the basis of their membership in CEMAC. Scholars, custom officials, business persons and travelers will be randomly selected.
- Drawing the Sample
After identifying CEMAC as the case for this study, the researcher will then draw a list of all the countries that are members to this bloc. These countries will become participants in the study. When they get to the field, the researcher will randomly select scholars from universities. The scholars will be selected from economic and business departments of the universities. Customs and immigration officials will be randomly selected from the borders between the member states. A random selection of business persons who operate within the region will be made. Business persons who do not conduct business beyond the borders of their countries will not be selected. Travelers will be randomly selected on the entry points (on borders and other ports of entry such as airports and train stations).
- Sample Size
The countries that will be used in this study will be 6. These constitute the membership to CEMAC. 4 scholars will be selected from each country, making a total of 24. The same number will be selected for customs and immigration officials. Ten travelers will be selected from each country, making a total of 60 travelers. This number will be selected since the researcher feels that it is manageable and easy to handle. The table below illustrates the sample size for the study:
Table 1: Sample Size
- Data Collection Procedures
The data will be collected through review of literature, informal interviews and observations. Literature review will be used to identify knowledge gaps as well as to provide information that will act as a guide in the field. Informal interview will be administered on the participants to identify the internal and external factors affect CEMAC as well as the impacts of the bloc in the region. Observations will be made on the border points to identify the ease with which travelers from one member state enter another state.
- Data Analysis and Interpretation
The data collected will be analyzed through descriptive techniques. The researcher will also use the data to come up with themes regarding the internal and external weaknesses and strengths of CEMAC and how they affect the impact that this organization has on the region. The researcher will also analyze and interpret the data collected by making assertions regarding the external and internal factors affecting CEMAC. The researcher will use the data collected to come up with a SWOT Analysis of CEMAC. Here, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing CEMAC will be analyzed with a special focus on how they affect the impact of this organization on the member states.
- Study Limitations: Weaknesses of the Design and How they Will be Addressed
Following are some of the limitations and weaknesses of the research design that may affect the quality of the study and how they will be addressed:
- The researcher will be making use of observation as one of the techniques for collecting data. It is noted that the researcher may encounter a multitude of events and they may be confused on which to observe. They may also fail to observe important events. This will be addressed by the use of a scorecard in making the observations
- The researcher will also an interview guide to help them cover all the questions they need to ask in the informal interview
- The geographical area to be covered in the study is huge. In order to cover the whole of it, the researcher will extend the timeframe within which the study was expected to be completed from 3 months to 41/2 months
- Ethical Concerns
Given the fact that the study will use human subjects, it is important for the researcher to pay attention to ethical issues that may come into play. The study will ensure that the participants make a voluntary and informed consent to participate in the study. This will be achieved by explaining to them the nature of the study. Before they are interviewed, the participants will be informed that they are free to accept or decline to participate in the study without any prejudice. The researcher will also seek clearance from the university’s ethical committee. A proposal for the study will be submitted to the committee and the research will commence only after the proposal has been approved by the committee. With the help of the university, the student will seek clearance from the authorities of the countries within which the study will be conducted.
Significance of the Study
- Practical Contributions of the Study
- The study will contribute to the knowledge base which exists regarding the impacts of regional integration
- The study will give recommendations and suggestions for future research in the area
- The study will identify knowledge gaps in this field and try to address them. It will also verify existing knowledge in this field
- Who Stands to Benefit from the Study?
- Governments in central Africa and the whole of Africa in extension stand to benefit from the findings of this study. The governments will be able to identify the external and internal factors that affects regional integration efforts in the region and how to address them
- Business people and travelers in the region and other parts of the world will benefit from the findings of the study since they will be able to identify the impacts that regional integration efforts have on their welfare
- Students and scholars will benefit from the findings of the study as they will be able to identify the importance of regional integration on trade and human migration
- Implications for Social Change
- The study will help policy makers to identify factors that hinder human migration within member states and how to address them.
- The study will help individuals in central Africa and the whole continent at large to identify the importance of regional integration and how to take advantage of such efforts.
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