Free trade areas have always been the one of the paths that countries take to develop faster. The European Union, for example, has made it easier for many European countries trading among each other. This has in turn contributed to a higher growth rate in the past 4 decades, resulting in a more developed and integrated Europe. The talk of a similar framework in Africa has always dominated the mainstream media and geopolitics of the continent. Such a framework appeared under the form of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
ECOWAS is a regional economic group binding together 15 West African countries. One of its main goals is to ensure the smooth and free movement of goods, services and member States citizens within the bloc and to improve economic integration. As such, one would expect a significantly higher intra-regional trade volume compared to trade with rest of the world. This is however not the case. Even though it is on the increase direction-ally, it is still significantly lower than merchandise trade with high income economies. In fact, Intra-African trade is the lowest compared to intra-regional trade in other continents.