Welcome! In our Economics class today, we will be looking at the topic “ECOWAS”. Do have a great moment studying with us.

Lesson Note

Subject: Economics

Topic: Overview of ECOWAS.

Learning Objectives: By the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:

  1. Give a brief history on the foundation of ECOWAS;
  2. Mention the countries that comprises ECOWAS;
  3. State the aims and objectives of ECOWAS;
  4. identify the organs of ECOWAS;
  5. State the achievement of ECOWAS;
  6. Identify the problems or weakness of ECOWAS;
  7. Point out issues arising from ECOWAS;
  8. State ways in which the efficient functioning of ECOWAS can hasten the economic growth of the member states.


Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas)

The Economic Community Of West African States was founded on 28th May, 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. It comprised all the 16 independent nations of West Africa. 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 and the English speaking or Anglophone countries. Senegal, Togo, Guinea, Mali, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cote de I’voire, Mauritania and Niger republic are French speaking or Francophone countries while Cape Verde and Guinea Bissua are Protugese speaking or Busophone countries.

Aims and objectives of ECOWAS

i. 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, telecommunication, etc among the members states making up the organisation.
ii. Trade liberalisation: One of the major aims of ECOWAS treaty was the establishment of a common market with the aim of liberalising trade within the region.
iii. To ensure economic stability: They are also to increase and maintain economic stability with the community.
iv. To Foster closer relations: This could be achieved by encouraging free movement of citizens, goods and services.
v. To increase production: ECOWAS was formed with the hope of ensuring faster regional Industrial development to promote increased production growth.
vi. To abolish trade barriers and restrictions: One of the aims of ECOWAS as an economic integration was to abolish trade barriers and the member nations.
vii. Development of African continent: It is also aimed at encouraging the progress and development of the African continent.
viii. To raise the standard of living: ECOWAS was also designed to promote and raise the standard of living of the people through co-operation within the sub-region.

Organs of ECOWAS

The following are the organs established by the organisation:
i. The authority of heads of state and government: This is the foremost, and the highest authority of the organisation. 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.
ii. The council of ministers: This council consists of the ministers or representatives from each member state and it meets twice in a year. Voting on issues is based on simple majority.
iii. The executive Secretariat: The executive secretariat is the administrative organ of ECOWAS. It is located in Abuja. The Secretary-Genral 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 Abubakar Quaffara of Cote d’ I’voire (1975 – 1985).
Momodu Munu of Sierra Leone (1985 – 1989),
Benjamin Edoured of Guinea (1993 – 1997),
Lanscina Kansana, Kouya te of Guinea ( 1997 – 2000), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas (2000 – 2010), James Victor Gbeho of Ghana (2010 – 2012) and the current secretary general is Marcel Alain de Souza of Benin republic.
iv. 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 ministers. The functions of the fund is for compensation, foriegn investments, development projects and for mobilisation.
v. The community tribunal: This tribunal settles disputes among member states making up the organisation on matters affecting the interpretation of the treaties that established ECOWAS.
vi. The technical and specialised commission: ECOWAS has four technical and specialised commissions.
a. The industry, agriculture and natural resource commission.
b. The trade, customs, immigration, monetary and payments commission.
c. The transport, telecommunication and energy commission.
d. The social and cultural affairs commission.

Achievements of ECOWAS

i. The removal of custom duties: Custom duties that may come up in areas of exportation and importation of goods and removed.
ii. Elimination of obstacles: There is the elimination of obstacles to allow movement of persons, services and capital.
iii. Elimination of administrative restrictions: These and other restrictions on trade within the sub-region removed.
iv. Establishment of funds: The funds are established for co-operation, compensation and development.
v. Mediation: Member states mediate in disputes among states, e.g Nigeria and Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone etc.
vi. Formation of ECOMOG: ECOMOG was formed as a peace-keeping force and it helped in restoring democracy in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.
vii. Co-operation in culture ans sports: Member states co-operation in these areas. For example in the area of football – West African Football Union (WAFU).
viii. Apartheid and neo-colonialism: Member states within the sub-region spoke against Apartheid policy in South Africa and neo-colonialism.
ix. Unity: The establishment of ECOWAS has helped in uniting the people of member nations irrespective of the difference ideology, historical background, tribes, belief etc.

Problems or weakness of ECOWAS

i. Colonial masters: The political economies of member states are tied to those of their respective former colonial masters.
ii. Language barrier: Official language of member countries are foriegn and varied. English, French, Portuguese, thus complicating the communication problem.
iii. 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 member states.
iv. Political instability: Frequent change of leadership in member countries is another problem of ECOWAS.
v. Similarity of products: The similarity of products of member states make trade among ECOWAS states difficult and unprofitable.
vi. Fear of domination: The fear of domination of smaller states by bigger ones is a barrier to unity.
vii. Transportation and communication: These are some of the major problems facing the community.

How The Efficient Functioning Of The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) Can Hasten The Economic Growth Of The Member States

The efficient functioning of ECOWAS will hasten the economic growth of its member states in the following ways;
i. There will be reduction in the rate of unemployment as labour will be freely mobile.
ii. There will be potentials for development of other agencies and organs which will further increase employment opportunities.
iii. There will be a more efficient allocation of resources when they are harnessed together and put into proper use.
iv. There will be a larger market for the goods produced within the region.
v. There will be greater volume of trade as trade barriers will be removed among member states.
vi. More capital could be attracted when the member countries come together as one large unit.
vii. Members producing the same or identical goods can form cartels or monopolies and obtain better bargaining or deals from other countries outside its membership.

Issues in the New International Economic Order

There have been a lot of imbalance and economic problems created as a result of the groupings of the various countries into developed and developing nations. The developed nations are highly industrialised with favourable terms of trade and balance of payment positions. The developing countries are frustratingly depending on the developed countries for their survival owing mainly to the primary production nature of the developing nations. Under this situation of dependency, there is the tendency of serious exploitation of the developing nations by advanced ones. This feeling of complete domination therefore by the developing countries gives rise to the agitation for protection which eventually gives rise to the formal of New International Economic Order to provide succour to the developing nations of the world.

Done studying? See all previous lessons in Economics

Take a quick test for this lesson

  1. Give a brief history on the foundation of ECOWAS.
  2. Mention the countries that comprises ECOWAS.
  3. What are the aims and objectives of ECOWAS?
  4. State the organs of ECOWAS.
  5. State the achievement of ECOWAS.
  6. What are the problems or weakness of ECOWAS?
  7. State the issues arising from the new international order in ECOWAS.
  8. State ways in which the efficient functioning of ECOWAS can hasten the economic growth of the member states.

Questions answered correctly? Kudos!!

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