Economic Community West African States (ECOWAS)
The History of ECOWAS
This was established on 28 May 1975, in Lagos Nigeria. Though the idea for its formation was conceived in 1964, by the late president of Liberia called William Tubman. He made a strong call for the formation. In February 1965 in Nairobi, Kenya, the United Nations economic commission for Africa passed a resolution during its seventh session urging the member states to establish “a sub-regional intergovernmental machinery for economic and social cooperation” resolution 142 and 145 were passed by ECA in 1965, nothing was done until 1972 when General Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria and President Eyadema of Togo initiated action by drawing up a proposal, engaged in a tour of twelve countries soliciting for its endorsement from July to August 1973. Subsequently, a meeting was held in Lome from 10th – 15th December 1973 to study the draft treaty. This treaty was further examined at a meeting of experts and jurists in Accra in January 1974 and another meeting of ministers held in January 1975. Finally, fifteen member countries out of which are eleven heads of states signed the treaty for an economic community of West African States (Treaty of Lagos) on 28th May 1975.
Cape Verde later joined making the total number sixteen. Mauritania withdrew its membership from the community in December 2000 thereby reducing the number to fifteen (15). Out of this number, five are English speaking. These countries are:
Nigeria, Togo, Liberia, Gambia, Senegal, Cote D’ivoire, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mali, Guinea Bisssau, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea, Ghana.
Objectives of ECOWAS
The objectives of ECOWAS are as follows:
1. To promote co-operation and development in all fields of economic activity especially in these fields; industry, transport, agriculture, commerce, telecommunication, and energy.
2. To raise the standard of living of its people and to maintain economic stability in the region.
3. To foster closer relations among member countries.
4. To eliminate customs duties and other charges of equivalent effect among the member states in respect of importation and exportation of goods.
5. To abolish obstacles to the free movement of persons, services, and capital among the States.
6. To abolish quantitative and administrative restrictions on trade among the member states.
7. To implement schemes for joint development of transport, communication, energy, and other infrastructural facilities.
8. To harmonize the economic and industrial policies of the states.
9. To harmonize monetary policies as required for the proper functioning of the community.
10. To establish a fund for cooperation, compensation and development.
ECOWAS MEMBER COUNTRIES
- Niger Republic
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Benin Republic
- Coted’ Ivoire
- Guinea Bisau
- Sierra Leone
- The Gambia
Achievement of ECOWAS
1. Establishment of Institutions: The establishment of different functioning institutions of the group which have aligned its policies with that of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in order to speed up the attainments of an integrated community with a single currency. Some of these institutions are; West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) West African Unit of Account (WAUA), ECOWAS Trade liberalization Scheme (TLS) etc.
2. ECOWAS Monetary Group (ECOMOG): The establishment of ECOMOG has contributed greatly in establishing the sub-region. The Military outfit of this region was used to install normalcy in Wartorn Liberia and Sierra Leone.
3. ECOWAS Travellers Cheque: The introduction of this cheque has helped the movement of people within the region.
4. ECOWAS has assisted in the liberalization of trade within the sub-region. Products produced in Nigeria are seen in different West African Markets.
5. Establishment of EcoBank: It was established in 1990 as an offshore Commercial Bank in twelve West African Countries.
6. Fostering of Unity: The establishment of this group has led to an improved relationship among member countries.
The problems of ECOWAS
Though there are achievements and success recorded, some problems still beset the community.
1. The problem of Immigrants: The opportunity provided to citizens of member states on the free movement of people within the states have been abused because it has led to an influx of aliens and immigrants to richer countries.
2. Smuggling: Smuggling of goods has been on the increase among the ECOWAS community.
3. Increase in Social vices: Prostitutions, armed robbery, Kidnapping, trafficking, etc are now common among the ECOWAS states.
4. Language Problem: The multiplicity of language and local dialects tends to pose problems to commerce.
5. Absence Of Common Currency: Member states still use their local currencies in business transactions.
6. Inadequacy of Resources; There is also the problem of shortage of funds due to inability of members to pay their dues as required.
7. Low Rate Of Sub-Regional Trade: Trade among member states is still at its lowest ebb because most of these countries are still maintaining trade relations with their former colonial rulers and other developed countries.
- Give the full meaning of ECOWAS
- Narrate the history of ECOWAS
- Briefly explain the achievement of ECOWAS in five points
- State five challenges of ECOWAS