Economic Community of West African States

Economic Community of West African States
  • Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest  (French)
  • Comunidade Económica dos Estados da África Ocidental  (Portuguese)
HeadquartersNigeria Abuja, Nigeria
9°2′N 7°31′E / 9.033°N 7.517°E / 9.033; 7.517
Official languages
   Chairman Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
   President of the Commission Benin Marcel Alain de Souza
   Speaker of the Parliament Senegal Moustapha Cissé Lô
   Treaty of Lagos 28 May 1975[1] 
   Total 5,112,903 km2 (7th)
1,974,103 sq mi
   2013 estimate 340,000,000 (4th)
   Density 49.2/km2
127.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
   Total US$ 1,322 billion [2] (18th)
   Per capita US$ 3,888[3]
GDP (nominal) estimate
   Total $ 675 Billion[4] 2013
   Per capita $ 1,985
Time zone (UTC+0 to +1)
a. If considered as a single entity.
b. To be replaced by the eco.
c. Liberia and Sierra Leone have expressed an interest in joining the eco.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS; French: Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, CEDEAO) 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.[5] The organization operates officially in three co-equal languages—French, English, and Portuguese.

The ECOWAS consists of two institutions to implement policies—the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, formerly known as the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001.

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, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.


 Burkina Faso
 Cape Verde
 Ivory Coast
 Sierra Leone

Former members

 Mauritania, withdrew in December 2000[6]


President of the Commission, current and former

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the African Union

From 1977 to 2006 the post name was Executive Secretary

From the restructuring


Regional security cooperation

The ECOWAS nations 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.[7]

Expanded ECOWAS Commission

For the third time since its inception in 1975, ECOWAS is undergoing institutional reforms. The first was when it revised its treaty on 24 July 1993; the second was in 2007, when the Secretariat was transformed into a Commission. As of July 2013, ECOWAS now has six new departments (Human Resources Management; Education, Science and Culture; Energy and Mines; Telecommunications and IT; Industry and Private Sector Promotion. Finance and Administration to Sierra Leone has been decoupled, to give the incoming Ghana Commissioner the new portfolio of Administration and Conferences)[8]

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.[9] However, the Court did not 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 Articles 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 East African Court of Justice, it has jurisdiction to rule on fundamental human rights breaches.[9]

Sporting and cultural exchange

ECOWAS nations organize a broad array of cultural and sports event under the auspices of the body, including the CEDEAO Cup in football, the 2012 ECOWAS Games and the Miss CEDEAO beauty pageant.[10]

Economic integration

West African Economic and Monetary Union

  ECOWAS only (Cape Verde)

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, mainly francophone West African states within the ECOWAS, that was dominated otherwise by anglophone heavyweights like Nigeria and Ghana.[11] 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:[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]


ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development headquarters in Lome.

West African Monetary Zone

See also: Eco (currency)

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.[15] The six member states of WAMZ are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone who founded the organisation together in 2000 and Liberia who joined on 16 February 2010. Apart from Guinea, which is Francophone, they are all English speaking countries. 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.



Main article: ECOWAS rail

A Trans-ECOWAS project, established in 2007, plans to upgrade railways in this zone.[18]


NSA surveillance

Further information: Global surveillance disclosure

Documents of Edward Snowden showed in December 2013 that British and American intelligence agencies surveillance targets with America's National Security Agency (NSA) included organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations Development Programme, the UN's children's charity UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières.[19]

See also


  1. African Union
  2. Data. "GDP, PPP (current international $) | Data | Table". Retrieved 2014-08-08.
  3. Data. "GNI per capita, PPP (current international $) | Data | Table". Retrieved 2014-08-08.
  4. Data. "GDP (current US$) | Data | Table". Retrieved 2014-08-08.
  5. Adeyemi, Segun (6 August 2003). "West African Leaders Agree on Deployment to Liberia". Jane's Defence Weekly.
  6. Pazzanita, Anthony (2008). Historical Dictionary of Mauritania. Scarecrow Press. pp. 177–178.
  7. "Profile: Economic Community of West African States" (PDF). Africa Union. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  8. Bensah, Emmanuel K. (2013-07-24). "Communicating the ECOWAS Message (4): A New Roadmap for the Ouedraogo Commission(1)". Retrieved 2014-08-08.
  9. 1 2 ECOWAS (2007) Information Manual: The Institutions of the Community ECOWAS
  10. "Miss ECOWAS 2010". The Economist. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  11. Fau-Nougaret (ed.), Matthieu (2012). "La concurrence des organisations régionales en Afrique". Paris: L'Harmattan.
  12. 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
  13. “Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)” fact sheet from the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs
  14. “Annual Report on Integration in Africa 2002” All Africa, 1 March 2002
  15. "Common West Africa currency: ECO in 2015". MC Modern Ghana.
  16. "The Supplementary Wamz Payment System Development Project the Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia". Africa Development Bank Group. 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  17. "WAMZ gets US$ 7.8 million grant". Accra Daily Mail. 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  18. Proposed Ecowas railway.
  19. GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief The Guardian 20 December 2013

External links

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