Economics Community of West African State (ECOWAS)


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In today’s class, we will be talking about Economics Community of West African State (ECOWAS). Enjoy the class!

Economics Community of West African State (ECOWAS)

Economics Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) |

Origin of the ECOWAS

On the 28th May 1975 in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon and the president of Togo, Eyadema gave rise to the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 16 independent nations of West Africa make up its membership. Abuja serves as the administrative headquarters while Lome is the fund headquarters.

English speaking members of the organization are Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra-Leone. These countries are also called ‘Anglophone countries’. The French-speaking countries are Senegal, Togo, Mali, Guinea, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cote de Ivoire, Niger Republic and Mauritania. These countries are also called ‘Francophone countries’.

Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau are Portuguese speaking countries of ECOWAS also called ‘Bisophone’.

Objectives of ECOWAS
  1. ECOWAS main aim is to promote cooperation and development of economies of member States.
  2. To enhance and promote a good standard of living of member states.
  3. To encourage and foster trade relations among member states.
  4. To establish a common customs tariff which will also remove all obstacles to free movement of goods and services among member States.
  5. To promote economic stability and growth among member States.
Organs of ECOWAS
  1. The Authority of Heads of the States and Governments: This is the highest authority of the organisation. It consists of Heads of state and government that are members of ECOWAS which is headed by a chairman who holds office for a year. Functions of this organ include making decisions on behave of the organization, appoints the Executive Secretary for the organization, has the power to amend the charter that formed the organization, etc.
  2. The Council of Ministers: They are saddled with the responsibilities of implementing decisions of the Assembly of Heads of states and make recommendations, they approve the budget of the organization, they also prepare the agenda for the meetings of the Heads of state and governments.
  3. The Executive Secretariat: This organ handles the administrative functions of ECOWAS. Abuja is the location of the Secretariat of ECOWAS. The Secretariat is headed by a Secretary-General. Functions of this organ include preparation of annual reports, appointments of member staff, supervises the preparation of the annual budget of the organization.
  4. The Fund for Cooperation Compensation and Development: Lome, Togo is the headquarters of this organ. It is headed by a Managing Director, appointed by the Council of Ministers. Functions of the Fund for Cooperation Compensation and Development includes providing compensation to member states, creating enabling opportunities for foreign investments and also assisting member states in developmental projects, etc.
  5. The Community Tribunal: Its duty is to settle disputes among member states.
  6. The Technical and Specialised Commission: There are four technical and specialised commissions in ECOWAS. They are;
  7. The Social and Cultural Affairs Commission.
  8. The Trade, Customs, Immigration, Monetary and Payments Commission.
  9. The Industry, Agriculture and Natural Resources Commission.
  10. The Transport, Telecommunication and Energy Commission.
  11. Court of Economic Community of West African States: It was created in 2001 mainly to administer justice and to hear cases arising from member states in the organization. Individuals are also able to bring actions against organizations or citizens seeking redress in any case of human rights abuses.
Problems of ECOWAS
  1. Different languages: Members of ECOWAS are either speaking English, French or Portuguese, this poses a communication challenge to the organization.
  2. The economy of most member states is linked to their former colonial leaders. This hinders the aim of the existence of ECOWAS.
  3. Fear of Domination: Smaller ECOWAS nations often feel threatened by the bigger nations and this is a barrier to the unity of the organization.
  4. Global Recession: This is a huge challenge for the organization because it affects the economies of member states and the world at large.
  5. Political Instability: Countries with political crises and the frequent changes of government hinder the growth of the organization.
Achievements of ECOWAS
  1. The removal of customs duties: ECOWAS member states do not pay for customs duties during the exportations and importations of goods.
  2. Expansion of Markets: ECOWAS member states enjoy a variety of goods and this helps to expand the markets at the regional level.
  3. ECOMOG: This was formed to ensure the maintenance of peace and security among members states.
  4. Meditation: Member states seek ways to solve conflicts and this is done through mediation. For example, Nigeria often plays a big role in mediating for countries like Chad, Liberia, Sierra-Leone.
  5. Creation of Funds: Funds are created to assist member states to boost their respective economies.

The Economic Community of West Africa is geared towards promoting the West African States.

General evaluation
  1. Give three aims of ECOWAS.
  2. List and explain four organs of ECOWAS
  3. What year was ECOWAS formed?


  1. State five ways ECOWAS can best unite economies of the West African States.
  2. Give four achievements of ECOMOG.
  3. Identify three challenges of ECOMOG


In our next class, we will be talking about the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (O.P.E.C). We hope you enjoyed the class.

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