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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries, founded on May 28, 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos. Its mission is to promote economic integration. In 1976 Cape Verdemarker joined ECOWAS, and in December 2000 Mauritaniamarker withdrew, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.

It was founded to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for the member states by means of economic and monetary union creating a single large trading bloc. The very slow progress towards this aim meant that the treaty was revised in Cotonoumarker on July 24, 1993, towards a looser collaboration. The ECOWAS Secretariat and the Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development are its two main institutions to implement policies. The ECOWAS Fund was transformed into the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development in 2001.

ECOWAS is one of the pillars of the African Economic Community.

The current President of the Commission is Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas. The current chairman is President Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeriamarker.

It operates officially in three coequal languages (French, English, and Portuguese).


Current members

Suspended members

 – suspended after 2008 coup d'état

 – suspended after 2009 auto-coup

ECOWAS announced the suspension of Nigermarker from the organisation on 20 October 2009. On 17 October ECOWAS had asked Niger to postpone its controversial 20 October elections. The elections had been boycotted by members of the opposition as President Tandja Mamadou faced accusations of trying to lengthen his reign. According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the organisation stated that the decision to go ahead with elections in Niger was "in total disregard of the authority of ECOWAS" and that it was "a clear move by the authorities in Niger to further entrench the constitutional illegality currently prevailing in the country".


President of the Commission

From 1977 to 2006 the post name was Executive Secretary

From the restructuring


Regional security cooperation

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

See also: ECOMOG

The Community Court of Justice

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice was created by a protocol signed in 1991, and included in Article 6 of the Revised Treaty of the Community that came into existence in 1993. The Court legally came into being when the 1991 protocol entered into force on 5 November 1996. The jurisdiction of the Community Court of Justice is laid out in Article 9 and Article 76 of the Revised Treaty, and includes ruling on disputes between states over interpretations of the Revised Treaty and providing the ECOWAS Council with advisory opinions on legal issues (Article 10). Like its companion courts the European Communities Court of Justice and the East African Court of Justice, it has jurisdiction over fundamental human rights breaches.

Sporting and cultural exchange

ECOWAS nations organise a broad array of cultural and sport meetings under the auspices of the body, ranging from the CEDEAO Cup in football, to the Miss CEDEAO Beauty pageant.

aua is the president of ghana

Economic participation

West African Economic and Monetary Union

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (or UEMOA from its name in French, Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is an organization of eight states of West Africa established to promote economic integration among countries that share a common currency, the CFA franc. UEMOA was created by a Treaty signed at Dakarmarker, Senegalmarker, on January 10, 1994 by the Heads of State and Government of Beninmarker, Burkina Fasomarker, Côte d’Ivoiremarker, Malimarker, Nigermarker, Senegalmarker, and Togomarker. On May 2, 1997, Guinea-Bissaumarker, a former Portugese colony, became its eighth (and only non-Francophone) member state.

UEMOA is a customs union and monetary union between some of the members of ECOWAS. Its objectives are
  • Greater economic competitiveness, through open and competitive markets, along with the rationalization and harmonization of the legal environment
  • The convergence of macroeconomic policies and indicators
  • The creation of a common market
  • The coordination of sectoral policies
  • The harmonization of fiscal policies

In terms of its achievements, UEMOA members have implemented macroeconomic convergence criteria and an effective surveillance mechanism; have adopted a customs union and common external tariff (early 2000); have harmonized indirect taxation regulations; and have initiated 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 program of action on trade liberalization and macroeconomic policy convergence. ECOWAS and UEMOA 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.

West African Monetary Zone

The West African Monetary Zone is a group of five countries in ECOWASmarker that plan to introduce a common currency, the Eco by the year 2015. The five member states are Gambiamarker, Ghanamarker, Guineamarker, Nigeriamarker and Sierra Leonemarker. Liberiamarker (also a member of ECOWAS) has expressed an interest in joining. The WAMZ is dominated by Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and most populous country, with an estimated 145 million people. All the members of group are English-speaking countries, apart from Guinea, which is Francophone. Along with Mauritaniamarker, Guinea opted out of the CFA franc currency shared by all other former French colonies in West and Central Africa.

The WAMZ was formed in 2000 to try and 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 prepared by the West African Monetary Institute based in Accramarker, Ghana. This is intended to be the forerunner of a common central bank. However, several of the WAMZ's countries suffer from weak currencies and chronic budget deficits which are currently plugged by their central banks printing more and more notes of decreasing real value.


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


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