Economic Community of West African States
o President of the Commission
|Establishment||28 May 1975|
|28 May 1975|
o Treaty Revision
|24 July 1993|
|5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi) (7th)|
o 2015 estimate
|68.3/km2 (176.9/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2015 estimate|
|US$1.483 trillion (18th)|
o Per capita
|$675 billion 2015 (21st)|
o Per capita
The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS, is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Collectively, these countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi), and in 2015 had an estimated population of over 349 million.
The union was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, with its stated mission to promote economic integration across the region. A revised version of the treaty was agreed and signed on 24 July 1993 in Cotonou. Considered one of the pillar regional blocs of the continent-wide African Economic Community (AEC), the stated goal of ECOWAS is to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for its member states by creating a single large trade bloc by building a full economic and trading union.
The ECOWAS also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region, with member states occasionally sending joint military forces to intervene in the bloc's member countries at times of political instability and unrest. In recent years these included interventions in Ivory Coast in 2003, Liberia in 2003, Guinea-Bissau in 2012, Mali in 2013, and The Gambia in 2017.
ECOWAS includes two sub-regional blocs:
In addition, ECOWAS includes the following institutions: ECOWAS Commission, Community Court of Justice, Community Parliament, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), West African Health Organisation (WAHO), and the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in West Africa (GIABA).
The ECOWAS operates in three co-official languages--French, English, and Portuguese, and consists of two institutions to implement policies: the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), formerly known as the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001. In 1976, Cape Verde joined the ECOWAS, while Mauritania withdrew in December 2000, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.
In 2011, the ECOWAS adopted its development blueprint for the next decade, Vision 2020, and, to accompany it, a Policy on Science and Technology (ECOPOST).
As of February 2017, ECOWAS has 15 member states; eight of these are French-speaking, five are English-speaking, and two Portuguese-speaking. All current members joined the community as founding members in May 1975, except Cape Verde which joined in 1977. The only former member of ECOWAS is Arabic-speaking Mauritania, which was also one of the founding members in 1975 and decided to withdraw in December 2000. Mauritania recently signed a new associate-membership agreement in August 2017.
Morocco officially requested to join ECOWAS in February 2017. The application was endorsed in principle at the summit of heads of state in June 2017, but Morocco's bid for membership was stalled.
Statistics for population, nominal GDP and purchasing power parity GDP listed below are taken from World Bank estimates for 2015, published in December 2016. Area data is taken from a 2012 report compiled by the United Nations Statistics Division.
|ECOWAS Zone A total||1,917,883||60,550||42,923||110,895||--||--|
|Burkina Faso||272,967||18,106||10,678||30,708||CFA franc||French|
|Ivory Coast||322,463||22,702||31,759||79,766||CFA franc||French|
|ECOWAS Zone B total||3,196,279||277,502||580,568||1,371,861||--||--|
|Executive Secretary||Country||In office|
|Inaugural holder Aboubakar Diaby Ouattara||Ivory Coast||January 1977 - 1985|
|Momodu Munu||Sierra Leone||1985-1989|
|Abass Bundu||Sierra Leone||1989-1993|
|Lansana Kouyaté||Guinea||September 1997 - 31 January 2002|
|Mohamed Ibn Chambas||Ghana||1 February 2002 - 31 December 2007|
|Mohamed Ibn Chambas||Ghana||1 January 2007 - 18 February 2010|
|James Victor Gbeho||Ghana||18 February 2010 - 1 March 2012|
|Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo||Burkina Faso||1 March 2012 - 4 June 2016|
|Marcel Alain de Souza||Benin||4 June 2016 - 1 March 2018|
|Yakubu Gowon||Nigeria||28 May 1975 - 29 July 1975|
|Gnassingbé Eyadéma||Togo||29 July 1975 - 13 September 1977|
|Olusegun Obasanjo||Nigeria||13 September 1977 - 30 September 1979|
|Léopold Sédar Senghor||Senegal||30 September 1979 - 31 December 1980|
|Siaka Stevens||Sierra Leone||1981-1982|
|Ahmed Sékou Touré||Guinea||1983-1984|
|Muhammadu Buhari||Nigeria||1985 - 27 August 1985|
|Ibrahim Babangida||Nigeria||27 August 1985 - 1989|
|Blaise Compaoré||Burkina Faso||1990-1991|
|Jerry Rawlings||Ghana||1994 - 27 July 1996|
|Sani Abacha||Nigeria||27 July 1996 - 8 June 1998|
|Abdulsalami Abubakar||Nigeria||9 June 1998 - 1999|
|Gnassingbé Eyadéma||Togo||1999 - 1999|
|Alpha Oumar Konaré||Mali||1999 - 21 December 2001|
|Abdoulaye Wade||Senegal||21 December 2001 - 31 January 2003|
|John Kufuor||Ghana||31 January 2003 - 19 January 2005|
|Mamadou Tandja||Niger||19 January 2005 - 19 January 2007|
|Blaise Compaoré||Burkina Faso||19 January 2007 - 19 December 2008|
|Umaru Musa Yar'Adua||Nigeria||19 December 2008 - 18 February 2010|
|Goodluck Jonathan||Nigeria||18 February 2010 - 17 February 2012|
|Alassane Ouattara||Ivory Coast||17 February 2012 - 17 February 2013|
|John Mahama||Ghana||17 February 2013 - 19 May 2015|
|Macky Sall||Senegal||19 May 2015 - 4 June 2016|
|Ellen Johnson Sirleaf||Liberia||4 June 2016 - 4 June 2017|
|Faure Gnassingbé||Togo||4 June 2017 - 31 July 2018|
|Muhammadu Buhari||Nigeria||31 July 2018 - 29 June 2019|
|Mahamadou Issoufou||Niger||29 June 2019 - present|
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.
The Community Parliament consists of 115 members, distributed based on the population of each member state. This body is headed by the Speaker of the Parliament, who is above the Secretary General.
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).
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. 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.
The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known as UEMOA from its name in French, Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is an organisation of eight, mainly francophone West African states within the ECOWAS, that were dominated otherwise by anglophone heavyweights like Nigeria and Ghana. 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 organisation's eighth (and only non-francophone) member state.
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.
ECOWAS and UEMOA have developed a common plan of action on trade liberalisation 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.
Formed in 2000, the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) is a group of six countries within ECOWAS that plan to introduce a common currency called the Eco. 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.
A Trans-ECOWAS project, established in 2007, plans to upgrade railways in this zone.