meaning of ECOWAS. economic community of west African states

when was ECOWAS formed

Formation: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was founded on 28th May, 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria.

It comprised all the 16 independent nations of West African. Abuja is the administrative headquarters of the community and Lome , the fund headquarters. Nigeria, under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon and Togo under President Eyadema initiated the formation of the sub regional economic grouping. Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the English- speaking or Anglophone countries. Senegal, Guinea, Togo, Mali, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cote de I’voire, Mauritania and Niger Republic are French Speaking or Francophone countries while Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau are Busophone or Portuguese speaking countries

Aims and objectives of ECOWAS

  1. Co-operation and development: One of the aims of ECOWAS is to promote co-operation and development in all fields of economic activity e.g. transport, energy agriculture and telecommunication among the members states making up the organization
  2. Trade liberalization: Another major aim of  ECOWAS treaty was the establishment of a common market with the aim of liberalizing trade within the region
  3. To ensure economic stability: They are also to increase and maintain economic stability within the community
  4. To abolish trade barriers and restrictions: One of the aims of ECOWAS as an economic as to abolish trade barriers among the member nations
  5. To foster closer relations: This could be achieved by encouraging free movement of citizens, goods and services
  6. To increase production: ECOWAS was formed with the hope of ensuring fater regional industrial development to promote increased production of goods
  7. Integration of both fiscal and monetary policies: The establishment of ECOWAS was also to ensurefiscal and monetary integration of West African State
  8. Development of African continent: It is also aimed at encouraging the process and development of African continent
  9. To raise the standard of living: ECOWAS was also designs to promote and raise the standard of living of the people through cooperation within the sub-region
  10. Establishment of common fund: The need for the establishment of this fund, is for compensation, cooperation and development within the sub region
  11. Poverty reduction: To reduce poverty in West Africa by working towards having variable economies

Organs of ECOWAS

The following are the organs established by the organsiation:

  1. The authority of heads of state and government: This is the foremost, and highest authority of the organization. It is made up of heads of state and government within the sub region. This organ is headed by a chairman, who holds office for one year. The office of the chairman is rotational. This body meets once a year but extraordinary meeting may be called.
  2. The council of ministers: This council consist of the ministers or representatives from each member state and it meets twice in a year. Voting on issues is based on simple majority

The executive secretariat of ECOWAS COUNTRIES:

The executive secretariat is the administrative organ of ECOWAS. It is located in Abuja. The Secretary-General is the head of the secretariat. He is the principal executive officer of the community and responsible for the general administration of the community. He is assisted by two deputy executive secretaries.

The office is for a period of four years and may be re-elected for another term.


The first executive secretary of ECOWAS was AbubakarQuattara of Cote d’Ivoire (1977 – 1985), followed by MomoduMunu of Sierra Leone (1985 – 1989), followed by AbassBundu of Sierra- Leone (1989 – 1993), followed by Edoured Benjamin of Guinea (1993 – 1997), followed by LansanaKouyate of Guinea (1997 – 2002), followed by Mohammed IbnChambas of Ghana (2002 – 2010), followed by James Victor Gbeho of Ghana (2010 – 2012) and followed by Kadre Desire Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso (2012- present)

The fund for co-operation compensation and development: The headquarters of this fund is Lome, Togo. It is headed by a managing director, who is appointed by the council of inisters. The functions of the fund is for compensation, foreign investment, development projects and for mobilization

The community tribunal: This tribunal settles disputes among members states making up the organization on matters affecting the interpretation of the treaties that established ECOWAS

The technical and specialized commission: ECOWAS has four technical and specialized commissions

The industry, agriculture and natural resources commission

The trade, customs, immigration, monetary and payments commission

The transport, telecommunication and energy commission

The social and cultural affairs commission

Achievements of ECOWAS

  1. The removal of customs duties: Customs duties that may come up in arrears of exportation and importation of goods are removed
  2. Elimination of obstacles: There is the elimination of obstacles to allow movement of persons, services and capital
  3. Elimination of administrative restrictions: These and other restrictions on trade within the sub- region have been removed
  4. Establishment of funds: The funds are established for co-operation, compensation and development
  5. Mediation: Member states mediate in disputes among states, e.g. Nigeria and Chad, Liberia and Sierra Leone
  6. Formation of ECOMOG: ECOMOG was formed as a peace-keeping force and it helped in restoring democracy in both Liberia and Sierra Leone
  7. Co-operation in culture and sports: Member-states cooperate in these areas. For example, in the area of football there is the West African Football Union (WAFU)
  8. Apartheid and neo-colonialism: Member-states within the sub region spoke against apartheid policy in South Africa and neo-colonialism
  9. Growth and expansion of markets: Production of different types of products, goods etc has helped in the growth and expansion of markets in member-nations irrespective of the differences in ideology, historical background, tribes, belief, etc.
  10. Unity: The establishment of ECOWAS has helped in uniting the people of member-nations irrespective of the differences in ideology, historical background, tribes, belief,

Problems or weakness of ECOWAS

  1. Colonial masters: The political economics of members-states are tired to those of their respective former colonial masters.
  2. Language barriers: Official languages of member-countries are foreign and varied: English, French, Portuguese, thus complicating the communication problem.
  3. Ideological differences: This also hampers the cohesiveness of the community
  4. Common currency problem: Foreign currencies like franc, pound sterling and dollar determine the stability of currency of member-states and there is no common currency for members-states
  5. Different level of economics development: This impedes movement towards harmonizing the different economies of member-states
  6. Political instability: Frequent change of leadership in member-countries is another problem of ECOWAS
  7. Global economics recession: This complicates efforts of the economy and its members
  8. Similarity of products: The similarity of products of member-states makes trade among ECOWAS states difficult and unprofitable
  9. Fear of domination: The fear of domination of smaller states by bigger ones is a barrier to unity
  10. Inability to contribute to ECOWAS fund: Inability of member-states to contribute to ECOWAS fund is another major problem     
  11. Transportation and communication: These are part of the major problems facing the community

How efficient functioning of the Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can hasten the Economic Growth of Member-States.

            The efficient functioning of ECOWAS will hasten the economic growth of its member-states in the following ways:

  1. There will be reduction in the rate of unemployment as labour will be freely mobile
  2. There will be potentials for development of other agencies and organs which will further increase employment opportunities
  3. There will be a more efficient allocation of resources where they are harnessed together and put into proper use
  4. There will be a larger market for the goods produced within the region
  5. There will be greater volume of trade as trade barriers will be removed among member-states
  6. More capital could be attracted when the member-countries come together as one large unit
  7. Members producing the same or identical goods can form cartels or monopolies and obtain better bargaining or deals from other countries outside its membership.

Some of the major international economic organizations are:

  1. 7. COMPOST

    9. loans for businesses
  2. how to establish enterprises
  3. what is a firm
  4. price equilibrium
  5. scale of preference
  6. concept of economics
  7. economic tools for nation building


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