ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES (ECOWAS)
60 Yakubu Gowon Crescent Postal Add: P.M.B. 401 Asokoro District Telephone: (9)314-7647/9 Abuja (9)314-7427/9 Nigeria Facsimile: (9)314-3005/6 Internet: www.ecowas-fund.org Executive Secretary: ... Mohamed Ibn CHAMBAS (Ghana) Deputy Executive Secretary Integration Programmes: ... Oluremi ARIBISALA (Nigeria) Deputy Executive Secretary Administration and Finance: ... Seybou GATI (Niger) Deputy Executive Secretary Political Affairs, Defence and Security: ... Gen. Cheikh O. DIARRA (Mali) Deputy Executive Secretary Policy Harmonisation: ... Mame Cor SENE (Senegal) Senior Officials Director of the Cabinet: ... Williams AWINADOR-KANYIRIGE (Ghana) Director of Administration: ... Taiwo O. LIJADU-OYEMADE (Nigeria) Acting Director of Finance: ... Ibrahima GUEYE (Senegal) Director of Communication: ... Adrienne DIOP (Senegal) Director of Legal Affairs: ... Roger LALOUPO (Benin) Director of Economic Policy: ... Frank OFEI (Ghana) Acting Director of Agriculture and Environment: ... Amadou MANGANE (Mauritania) Director of Trade and Customes Policy: ... Gilles HOUNKPATIN (Benin) Acting Director of Infrastructure and Industry: ... Amadou DIALLO (Guinea) Acting Director of Audit: ... Sidiki TRAORÉ (Mali) Director of Community Computer Centre: ... Monisoye O. AFOLABI (Nigeria) Acting Director of Human Development: ... Mamadou GUEYE (Senegal)
LANGUAGES: English, French, Portuguese
ESTABLISHMENT AND FUNCTIONS
Plans for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were first formally set out at the Monrovia Group meeting of April 1968. The Community was established by the Treaty of Lagos, which was signed by representatives of 15 West African States in Lagos on May 28, 1975. It entered into force in July 1975 when the necessary seven States ratified the Treaty. The first meetings of the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State and Government took place in Lomé, Togo, November 4-5, 1976 at which time additional protocols to the Treaty were signed. Cape Verde later acceded to the Treaty and thus became the sixteenth Member State of the Community.
A revised Treaty was signed by the sixteen West African Heads of State on July 24, 1993. The revised Treaty reflects West Africa's regional cooperation experiences over the preceding fifteen years and takes into account the exigencies of continental integration as envisaged in the Treaty of the African Economic Community.
The principal objectives of the Treaty, to be achieved in stages, is the creation of an economic and monetary union. To this end, a regional trade liberalization scheme has been adopted for the creation of a free trade area by the end of 1999, and a common external tariff is being implemented in phases. The three-phase programme for the free movement of Community citizens has been completed. The Community has been pursuing the physical integration of its Member States through the development and modernization of regional highway and telecommunication networks.
Member States have committed themselves to the coordination and harmonization of national economic and financial policies in order to enhance the effectiveness of national structural adjustment and economic reform programs. This is also to facilitate the regional approach to economic development and the establishment of a monetary union. The monetary program adopted by the Community has the medium-term objectives of achieving regional convertibility of the nine national currencies and, in the longer term, the creation of a single monetary zone. Meanwhile, an ECOWAS travelers check was launched in October 1998 to facilitate regional travel and commercial transactions.
The West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), a fore-runner to the West African Central Bank, became operational in January, 2001. The two-year transitional body is based in Accra, Ghana. There is also a Committee of Governors of West African Central Banks which has been coordinating the implementation of the ECOWAS monetary program.
In addition, the Community has been implementing such sectoral programs as the inter-connection of national electricity grids and regional pipeline for the distribution of natural gas, Community seed production and cattle breeding centers, agricultural research program, regional master plan for industrial development, coordination of desertification control programs, rural water supply schemes, cooperation in health matters, establishment of equivalence for degrees and diplomas, etc.
In the Treaty, particular emphasis has been placed on promoting the involvement and participation of the private sector and the general public in the development and integration of the economies of the region. Already, the Community has encouraged the establishment and functioning of a privately-owned regional commercial bank (ECOBANK), Federation of West African Manufacturers Associations, Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce, West African Journalists Association, West African Youth Union, West African Women's Association, West African Road Transporters Union, etc.
15 member countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
The Authority of Heads of State and Government is the supreme organ; it has a rotating chairmanship and meets at least once a year.
The Council of Ministers, comprising two representatives from each Member State and also having a rotating chairmanship, meets at least twice a year. Its decisions are made by a consensus.
The Executive Secretariat is headed by an Executive Secretary appointed for a four-year term. There are at present five specialized commissions dealing with different aspects of cooperation.
Also provided in the Treaty is a Court of Justice to ensure "the observance of law and justice, to interpret the provisions of the Treaty, and to settle disputes referred to it. Its decisions shall be final. The seven Justices for the Court, which is based in Abuja, Nigeria, were sworn-in in January, 2001 in Bamako, Mali. The President of the Court, Justice Hansine N. Donli (Nigeria) is assisted by the Vice-President, Justice Tall El Mansour (Senegal), Justice Nana Hadja Awa Daboya (Togo), Justice Malle Aminata (Mali), Justice Toe Barthelemy (Burkina Faso) and Justice Sidibé Soumana Dirarou (Niger).
The Treaty also provides for a West African Parliament and an Economic and Social Council. The West African Parliament, inaugurated in Bamako, Mali on November 16, 2000, held its maiden session in Abuja, Nigeria from January 21 to 27, 2001.
UPDATED: June 24, 2002