This article discusses the issue of regional cooperation and development with specific reference to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The paper points out that although higher education may still be nationally based, it can no longer be considered as nationally bound. Consequently, systems for quality assurance, which are nationally limited in reach and scope, do no longer satisfy. In fact, the domestic process for quality assurance, which was historically not intended to serve a regional or international purpose, has become grossly inadequate. Inter-universities cooperation, and not isolation, therefore, is indispensable parapher nalia for the region to achieve social, economic, political and technological breakthrough. However, the paper identifies some inhibiting factors, such as low absorptive capacity of the economy, ideological bi-polarity, regional dichotomy, kaleidoscopic nature of political environment and undeveloped economy, which limit ECOWAS in achieving the status of European Community Union (ECU) sequel to their cooperative venture in Higher Education. Nonetheless, the article foresees a ray of hope for the ECOWAS, based on the global examples of exchange programmes and centralisation of research activities through the apparatus of Information Communication Technologies (ICT). The paper concludes by making suggestions that could harness and enhance the abundant resources of higher education in the region for the optimum benefits of its people.
Makerere Journal of Higher Education Vol. 1, 2004: 172-180