Nigeria Abuja, Nigeria

9°2′35″N 7°31′32″E / 9.04306°N 7.52556°E / 9.04306; 7.52556 Official languages Membership Leaders
• Chairman
Togo Faure Gnassingbe
• President of the Commission
Benin Marcel Alain de Souza
• Speaker of the Parliament
Senegal Moustapha Cissé Lô Establishment
• Treaty of Lagos
28 May 1975[1] Area
• Total
5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi) (7th) Population
• 2015 estimate
349,154,000 (3rd)
• Density
68.3/km2 (176.9/sq mi) GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
• Total
US$1.483 trillion[2] (18th)
• Per capita
US$4,247[3] GDP (nominal) estimate
• Total

$675 billion[4]

2015 (21st)
• Per capita
$1,985 Currency
Time zone (UTC+0 to +1)
  1. If considered as a single entity.
  2. To be replaced by the eco.
  3. Liberia and Sierra Leone have expressed an interest in joining the eco.

The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS (French: Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, CEDEAO; Portuguese: Comunidade Económica dos Estados da África Ocidental, CEDEAO), is a regional 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 states 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.

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 Gambia in 2017.[5][6]

ECOWAS includes two sub-regional blocs:

  • The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known by its French-language acronym UEMOA) is an organization of eight, mainly French-speaking, states within the ECOWAS which share a customs union and currency union. Established in 1994 and intended to counterbalance the dominance of English-speaking economies in the bloc (such as Nigeria and Ghana), members of UEMOA are mostly former territories of French West Africa. The currency they all use is the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro.
  • The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), established in 2000, comprises six mainly English-speaking countries within ECOWAS which plan to work towards adopting their own common currency, the eco.

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. 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.

In 2011, ECOWAS adopted its development blueprint for the next decade, Vision 2020, and, to accompany it, a Policy on Science and Technology (ECOPOST).

Member states

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.[7] 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.[7]

Morocco officially requested to join ECOWAS in February 2017.[8] The application was endorsed at the summit of heads of state in June 2017.[9]

Statistics for population, nominal GDP and purchase price parity GDP listed below are taken from World Bank estimates for 2015, published in December 2016.[10][11][12] Area data is taken from a 2012 report compiled by the United Nations Statistics Division.[13]


Country Area[13]
GDP (nominal)[11]
(millions USD)
GDP (PPP)[12]
(millions intl.$)
Currency Official
 Cape Verde 4,033 521 1,603 3,413 escudo Portuguese
 Gambia 11,295 1,991 939 3,344 dalasi English
 Guinea 245,857 12,609 6,699 15,244 franc French
 Guinea-Bissau 36,125 1,844 1,057 2,685 CFA franc Portuguese
 Liberia 111,369 4,503 2,053 3,762 dollar English
 Mali 1,240,192 17,600 12,747 35,695 CFA franc French
 Senegal 196,712 15,129 13,610 36,625 CFA franc French
 Sierra Leone 72,300 6,453 4,215 10,127 leone English
ECOWAS ZONE A Total 1,917,883 60,550 42,923 110,895 &


Country Area[13]
GDP (nominal)[11]
(millions USD)
GDP (PPP)[12]
(millions intl.$)
Currency Official
 Benin 114,763 10,880 8,291 22,377 CFA franc French
 Burkina Faso 272,967 18,106 10,678 30,708 CFA franc French
 Ghana 238,533 27,410 37,543 115,409 cedi English
 Ivory Coast 322,463 22,702 31,759 79,766 CFA franc French
 Niger 1,267,000 19,899 7,143 19,013 CFA franc French
 Nigeria 923,768 182,202 481,066 1,093,921 Naira English
 Togo 56,785 7,305 4,088 10,667 CFA franc French
ECOWAS ZONE B Total 3,196,279 277,502 580,568 1,371,861 &


President of the Commissions

Map of the African Union.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the African Union
President 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
Édouard Benjamin  Guinea 1993–1997
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
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 – present


Chairperson Country In office
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
Gnassingbé Eyadéma  Togo 1980–1981
Siaka Stevens  Sierra Leone 1981–1982
Mathieu Kérékou  Benin 1982–1983
Ahmed Sékou Touré  Guinea 1983–1984
Lansana Conté  Guinea 1984–1985
Muhammadu Buhari  Nigeria 1985 – 27 August 1985
Ibrahim Babangida  Nigeria 27 August 1985 – 1989
Dawda Jawara  Gambia 1989–1990
Blaise Compaoré  Burkina Faso 1990–1991
Dawda Jawara  Gambia 1991–1992
Abdou Diouf  Senegal 1992–1993
Nicéphore Soglo  Benin 1993–1994
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 – present

Regional security co-operation

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.[14]

Community Parliament

The Community Parliament consists of 115 members, distributed based on the population of each member state.[15] This body is headed by the Speaker of the Parliament, who is above the Secretary General.

Country Parliament Seats
 Benin 5
 Burkina Faso 6
 Cape Verde 5
 Ivory Coast 7
 Gambia 5
 Ghana 8
 Guinea 6
 Guinea-Bissau 5
 Liberia 5
 Mali 6
 Niger 6
 Nigeria 35
 Senegal 6
 Sierra Leone 5
 Togo 5

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)[16]

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.[17] 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.[17]

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.[18]

Economic integration

West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)

  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.[19] 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:[20]

  • Greater economic competitiveness, through open markets, in addition to the rationalisation and harmonisation of the legal environment
  • The convergence of macro-economic policies and indicators
  • The creation of a common market
  • The co-ordination of sectoral policies
  • The harmonisation of fiscal policies

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.[21]

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.[22]


ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development headquarters in Lome.

West African Monetary Zone

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.[23] The six member states of WAMZ are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone who founded the organization 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.[26]

See also


  1. ^ African Union
  2. ^ Data. "GDP, PPP (current international $) Table". World Bank. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Data. "GNI per capita, PPP (current international $) Table". World Bank. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Data. "GDP (current US$) Table". World Bank. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Adeyemi, Segun (6 August 2003). "West African Leaders Agree on Deployment to Liberia". Jane's Defence Weekly. 
  6. ^ "The 5 previous West African military interventions". Yahoo News. AFP. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Pazzanita, Anthony (2008). Historical Dictionary of Mauritania. Scarecrow Press. pp. 177–178. ISBN 978-0-8108-6265-4. 
  8. ^ https://www.diplomatie.ma/Politique%C3%A9trang%C3%A8re/Afrique/tabid/136/vw/1/ItemID/14476/language/en-US/Default.aspx?platform=hootsuite
  9. ^ "Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe takes the reins of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government". 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2017-06-15. 
  10. ^ a b c "Population 2015" (PDF). World Bank. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c "Gross domestic product 2015" (PDF). World Bank. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c "Gross domestic product 2015, PPP" (PDF). World Bank. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c "Demographic Yearbook – Population by sex, annual rate of population increase, surface area and density" (PDF). United Nations Statistics Division. 2012. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "Profile: Economic Community of West African States" (PDF). Africa Union. 18 November 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  15. ^ About Us - ECOWAS Parliament, accessed 6 March 2017 Archived 7 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Bensah, Emmanuel K. (24 July 2013). "Communicating the ECOWAS Message (4): A New Roadmap for the Ouedraogo Commission(1)". Modernghana.com. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  17. ^ a b ECOWAS (2007) Information Manual: The Institutions of the Community ECOWAS Archived 30 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Miss ECOWAS 2010". The Economist. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  19. ^ Fau-Nougaret (ed.), Matthieu (2012). "La concurrence des organisations régionales en Afrique". Paris: L'Harmattan. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2008.  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
  21. ^ "Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)" fact sheet from the US Department of State's Bureau of African Affairs
  22. ^ "Annual Report on Integration in Africa 2002" All Africa, 1 March 2002
  23. ^ "Common West Africa currency: ECO in 2015". MC Modern Ghana. 
  24. ^ "The Supplementary Wamz Payment System Development Project the Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia". Africa Development Bank Group. 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  25. ^ "WAMZ gets US$7.8 million grant". Accra Daily Mail. 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  26. ^ Proposed Ecowas railway Archived 24 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. railwaysafrica.com.

External links