The 1980 Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) strategy

In order to tackle the economic problems facing Africa, the LPA strategy adopted in 1980 was based on the principles of self-reliance and self-sustaining development. Self-reliance means both national and collective measures to achieve development in Africa. It involves using domestic resources such as raw materials and capital resources to ensure that sustainable development was obtained in each of the country in Africa. In this respect, domestic inputs must be utilised nationally so that sustainable development will lead to the socioeconomic transformation of Africa. Collective self-reliance puts a stronger emphasis on collective efforts, leading to a harnessing of resources, an increase in intra-African trade, economic integration and cooperation to boost Africa internationally.

Self-sustaining development entails achieving development that dovetails with food security, self-sufficiency in manufactured goods and sustainable growth that does not deplete non-renewable resources as well as avoiding environmental degradation (Clark, 1997; Adedeji, 1985; Ake, 1996).

The main features of the LPA are to promote national self-reliance, encourage diversification and self-sustained development, promote participatory development, raise the standard of living and promote cooperation and economic integration.

The objective was to articulate and mobilise every factor to achieve economic growth and sustainable development, in order to enable Africa to become a major player in the global political economy. To ensure its effectiveness, strong emphasis was to be placed on food and agriculture, industry, natural resources, human resources development, science and technology, transport and communication, trade, energy, cooperation and economic integration, inter alia, in order to facilitate the pace of economic development in the continent (Clark, 1997, 2008).

The 1981 Final Act of Lagos (FAL)

In the FAL, provisions were made for both sub-regional and regional integration and cooperation in Africa. A common market was to be created to boost trade between African countries. Thus, to improve the level of trade in the continent, the FAL stressed that protectionist measures and tariff barriers should be dismantled. The respective sub-regions should establish sub-regional economic organisations that would form the pillars of the continental economic organisation that should be in place by the year 2002. As a consequence of the economic distortions in Africa and the lack of political will by African leaders to act, the deadline of 1980-2002 to realise the establishment of the continental economic community could not be met. However, in 1991, the Abuja Treaty or African Economic Community (AEG) was signed by the OAU member-states. When the treaty was signed in Abuja in 1991, the looming problems facing the continent made African leaders to point out that the AEC will be implemented in stages and that it will be fully realised by the year 2035. The set objectives and goals of the Plan according to West Africa in June 1991 is captured below:

The document suggests that the economic community’s ideal will be achieved within a period not exceeding 34 years. The first-five year period should see the strengthening of existing regional economic communities. A period of eight years was envisaged for the stabilisation of existing tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers, customs duties and internal taxes in each regional community. A free trade area was expected to be created eventually, while a common market operating a common policy on agriculture and transportation, tariffs and duties to be established.

The FAL urged on the needs for the harmonisation and/or approximation of macroeconomic policies. The world recessions, including the oil shocks of the

1970s, had dire consequences on the African economies that led to the plummeting of receipts from primary commodities exports, higher prices for the imports of manufactured goods and debt burden. Also, macroeconomic policies taken as well as currency fluctuations in the major industrialised economies impacted negatively on the African economies. As such, the FAL urged the African countries for the harmonisation of macroeconomic policies, among others, in order to protect and strengthen their economies against negative external factors and also to enable them to participate competitively in the global economy (Clark, 2001, 2008). The LPA and the FAL placed regional/economic integration as a key pillar of Africa’s self-reliance, economic growth and transformation. Unfortunately, many of its objectives remained only partly implemented. A variety of reasons have been advanced. However, one important factor was that the development strategy was not sufficiently participatory and failed to galvanise issues relating to gender inequality in Africa.

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