Economic Community of West African States

Economic Community of West African States
Comunidade Económica dos Estados da África Ocidental
Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest

Economic Community of West African States
  Current members  Suspended members
  Current members
  Suspended members
Headquarters Abuja, Nigeria
6°27′N 3°23′E / 6.45°N 3.383°E / 6.45; 3.383
Largest city Lagos, Nigeria
Official languages English, French, Portuguese
 -  Chairman Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan
 -  President of the Commission Ghana James Victor Gbeho
 -  Speaker of the Parliament Nigeria Ike Ekweremadu
 -  Treaty of Lagos 28 May 1975[1] 
 -  Total 5,112,903 km2 (7th)
1,974,103 sq mi 
 -  2006 estimate 251,646,263 (4th)
 -  Density 49.2/km2 
127.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 -  Total US$ 389,519 Billion[citation needed] (28th)
 -  Per capita US$ 7,890[citation needed] 
Currency Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)
Cedi (GHS)2
Dalasi (GMD)2
Guinean franc (GNF)2
Liberian dollar (LRD)3
Naira (NGN)2
Leone (SLL)3
West African CFA franc (XOF)
Time zone (UTC0 to +1)
1 If considered as a single entity.
2 to be replaced by the eco in 2015.
3 Liberia has expressed an interest in joining the eco.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region.

Considered one of the pillars of the African Economic Community, the organization was founded in order to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region.[2] The organization operates officially in three co-equal languages—English, French, and Portuguese.

The ECOWAS consists of two institutions to implement policies, the ECOWAS Secretariat and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, formerly known as the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001. James Victor Gbeho, the Advisor to the President of Ghana on Foreign Affairs, currently serves as the President of the commission. The current chairman is President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.

A few members of the organization have come and gone over the years. In 1976 Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, and in December 2000 Mauritania withdrew,[3] having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.[4]


Current members

 Burkina Faso
 Cape Verde
 Côte d'Ivoire—reinstated after being suspended because of the 2010 elections[5]
 Sierra Leone


President of the Commission, Current and Former

African Union

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From 1977 to 2006 the post name was Executive Secretary

From the restructuring


Regional security cooperation

The ECOWAS nation assigned a non-aggression protocol in 1990 along with two earlier agreements in 1978 and 1981. They also signed a Protocol on Mutual Defence Assistance in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 29 May 1981, that provided for the establishment of an Allied Armed Force of the Community.[6]

The Community Court of Justice

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice was created by a protocol signed in 1991 and was later included in Article 6 of the Revised Treaty of the Community in 1993.[7] However, the Court didn’t officially begin operations until the 1991 protocol came into effect on 5 November 1996. The jurisdiction of the court is outlined in Article 9 and Article 76 of the Revised Treaty and allows rulings on disputes between states over interpretations of the Revised Treaty. It also provides the ECOWAS Council with advisory opinions on legal issues (Article 10). Like its companion courts the European Court of Human Rights and the East African Court of Justice, it possess authority over fundamental human rights breaches.[7]

Sporting and cultural exchange

ECOWAS nations organize a broad array of cultural and sports event under the auspices of the body, ranging from the CEDEAO Cup in football, to the Miss CEDEAO Beauty pageant.[8]

Economic integration

West African Economic and Monetary Union

  ECOWAS only

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known as UEMOA from its name in French, Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is an organization of eight West African states. It was established to promote economic integration among countries that share the CFA franc as a common currency. UEMOA was created by a Treaty signed at Dakar, Senegal, on 10 January 1994, by the heads of state and governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. On 2 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, became the organization’s eighth (and only non-Francophone) member state.

UEMOA is a customs union and currency union between the members of ECOWAS. Its objectives include the following:[9]

  • Greater economic competitiveness, through open markets, in addition to the rationalization and harmonization of the legal environment
  • The convergence of macro-economic policies and indicators
  • The creation of a common market
  • The coordination of sectoral policies
  • The harmonization of fiscal policies

Among its achievements, the UEMOA has successfully implemented macro-economic convergence criteria and an effective surveillance mechanism. It has adopted a customs union and common external tariff and has combined indirect taxation regulations, in addition to initiating regional structural and sectoral policies. A September 2002 IMF survey cited the UEMOA as "the furthest along the path toward integration" of all the regional groupings in Africa.[10]

ECOWAS and UEMOA have developed a common plan of action on trade liberalization and macroeconomic policy convergence. The organizations have also agreed on common rules of origin to enhance trade, and ECOWAS has agreed to adopt UEMOA’s customs declaration forms and compensation mechanisms.[11]


West African Monetary Zone

Formed in 2000, the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) is a group of six countries within ECOWAS that plan to introduce a common currency, the Eco, by the year 2015. The WAMZ is largely dominated by Nigeria, due to its status as Africa's largest oil producer and most populous country. All the members of group are English-speaking countries, apart from Guinea, which is Francophone. Along with Mauritania, Guinea opted out of the CFA franc currency shared by all other former French colonies in West and Central Africa.

the WAMZ attempts to establish a strong stable currency to rival the CFA franc, whose exchange rate is tied to that of the Euro and is guaranteed by the French Treasury. The eventual goal is for the CFA franc and Eco to merge, giving all of West and Central Africa a single, stable currency. The launch of the new currency is being developed by the West African Monetary Institute based in Accra, Ghana. However, several of the WAMZ's countries currently suffer from weak currencies and chronic budget deficits. Unfortunately, their attempts to close this economic gap by printing more currency has further encouraged inflation.



A Trans-ECOWAS project, established in 2007, plans to upgrade railways in this zone, including Ghana.[14]

See also


  1. ^ African Union
  2. ^ Adeyemi, Segun (6 August 2003). "West African Leaders Agree on Deployment to Liberia". Jane's Defence Weekly. 
  3. ^ Adeyemi, Segun (2002). "Fostering Regional Integration Through NEPAD Implementation: Annual Report, 2002, of the Executive Secretary Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas". Abuja ECOWAS. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Executive Secretary’s Report". 2000. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Cote d'Ivoire expelled from Ecowas". 7 December 2009
  6. ^ "Profile: Economic Community of West African States". 18 November 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  7. ^ a b ECOWAS (2007) Information Manual: The Institutions of the Community ECOWAS
  8. ^ "Miss ECOWAS 2010". The Economist. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  9. ^ [1] REGIONAL INTEGRATION AND COOPERATION IN WEST AFRICA A Multidimensional Perspective, Chapter 1. Introduction: Reflections on an Agenda for Regional Integration and Cooperation in West Africa
  10. ^ “Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)” fact sheet from the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs
  11. ^ “Annual Report on Integration in Africa 2002” All Africa, 1 March 2002
  12. ^ "The Supplementary Wamz Payment System Development Project the Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia". 2011. Retrieved 07 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "WAMZ gets US$ 7.8 million grant". 2011. Retrieved 07 May 2011. 
  14. ^ 2007 Rail link ECOWAS countries

External links

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