- Regional Integration and Trade Liberalization in Subsaharan Africa. Volume 3, Regional Case-Studies, and: Regional Integration and Trade Liberalization in Subsaharan Africa. Volume 4, Synthesis and Review
These two volumes are the final ones in a series of four reporting the results of the collaborative project on the topic sponsored by the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and other institutions. Earlier volumes reported on conceptual and methodological issues, and country experiences, respectively. These two provide analysis of six regional integration schemes in Africa, and overall summary and discussion, respectively.
Both volumes are very valuable, and should serve as very useful references for students and researchers; it is to be hoped that they will find their way into many libraries, although at the official price it is unlikely that many African universities will think them good value for their money. The AERC project brought together a mix of economists from outside the continent who had African experience, and some of the best academic economists at African universities, and gave them the support of meetings and conferences to improve their initial drafts. In general, the outcome, as reflected in these volumes, has been very good, and the published papers here give good and accessible surveys of their subject matter. The only problem is that the time lag between the research project and publication of these volumes has been so long that they are now mostly of historical and academic interest; they are far too dated to be influential for policy.
Volume Three, covering regional cases, consists of eight chapters. After an introduction and overview by the editors, there are studies of six [End Page 201] integration schemes: ECOWAS, CEAO, and UEMOA, UDEAC, an overview of Eastern and Southern Africa, SACU, and SADC. The final paper, which is a bit of an orphan, is a theoretical discussion of the economic welfare impact of illegal cross-border trade in the context of liberalization of legal trade and monetary integration. The six regional case studies are, of course, somewhat uneven, as are the schemes examined, but they are in general well written. The greatest criticism of most of them is that they appear to have been drafted quite a long time ago, and not updated since. For example, the piece on ECOWAS, written by a three person team from the Universities of Ghana, Ibadan, and Nigeria, is very well done, but all data stop in 1992 (and are incomplete for that year), and the most recent reference is from 1994 (by one of the authors). In fact, in the whole book there is only one reference dated "1996," (to an AERC mimeo) and a handful dated "1995." The internal evidence strongly suggests the papers were drafted by 1995, and were not substantially altered thereafter. How a four-year lag between writing and publication can be explained by such a well-funded organization as the AERC is somewhat of a mystery. In Volume Four, the lag is made almost explicit by multiple references to the papers in earlier volumes with 1999 dates, but no other references later than 1995! It is somewhat surprising that the introductory chapters in neither volume make reference to this publication delay, nor provide any explanation.
In Volume Three, the two most substantial and useful papers in this reviewer's mind are those on UDEAC, by a team from Laval, and on SACU, by Gavin Maasdorp and Ngila Mwase. Both are thorough, cover the extant literature through 1995, and contain solid analysis. The other papers are generally more lightweight, although the piece on smuggling, by Jean-Paul Azam (of Toulouse), is a very nice example of how far one can go on a real-world problem with very straightforward and simple analytic tools, and clear reasoning, which could be very stimulating to students.
Volume Four really...