ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES (ECOWAS): Is a sub-regional economic organization established by sixteen West African States on the 28th of May 1975 with its headquarter now in Abuja, Nigeria.
AIMS/OBJECTIVES OF ECOWAS
- To promote an increased co-operation and development in economic activities.
- To promote the living standard of people through increased trade and infrastructural development.
- To promote economic stability especially in harmonizing the prices of Agricultural products.
- To promote rapid development of the continent.
- To remove all forms of tariff and quotas among member states.
- To establish a common customs and commercial policy towards non-member states.
- To eliminate all obstacles to free movement of goods and people.
INSTITUTIONAL ORGANS OF ECOWAS
- The Authority of Heads of State and Government.
- The council of Ministers.
- The executive secretariat.
- The fund for co-operation, compensation and development.
THE AUTHORITY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT: This is the highest policy-making body of the organization, which is made up of Heads of States and government within the sub-region.
- Appoints the executive secretary of the ECOWAS.
- Takes decisions on issues relating to the economy of the sub-region.
- Recommends the approval of council of ministers.
- Approves all the organization’s treaties.
- Approves proposals for the amendment of the organization’s charter.
THE COUNCIL OF MINISTER: This organ consists of two representatives from each member state who usually meet twice yearly.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
- Prepares meeting agenda of the Heads of States and government.
- Implements the decisions and resolutions of the Authority of Heads of states and government.
- Prepares the organization’s budget and forwards same to the Authority of Heads of states and government.
- Recommends the appointment of executive secretary with their deputies.
- Appoints the Managing Director for ECOWAS fund.
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARIAT: This is the administrative headquarter of ECOWAS and has an executive secretary as the head, who holds office for four year term and may be re-elected after first tenure.
FUNCTIONS OF THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARIAT
- Handles all the organization’s files, records and correspondences.
- Handles the preparation of the organization’s annual budget.
- Prepares meeting agenda.
- Helps to formulate policies of the organization.
- Runs the day-to-day administrative functions.
- Controls the fund of the community.
ECOWAS FUND FOR CO-OPERATION, COMPENSATION AND DEVELOPMENT: This is the organ that handles the common account of the community in Lome, its Fund headquarters.
USES/FUNCTIONS OF THE ECOWAS FUND
- To finance projects in member states.
- To provide compensation to member states.
- To guarantee foreign investments.
- To promote development projects in less developed member states of the community.
THE TRIBUNAL AND THEIR FUNCTIONS
- Interprets the treaty of the community and settles disputes among member states.
- Ensures compliance and general adherence of ECOWAS laws and justice.
TECHNICAL/SPECIALIZED COMMISSION OF ECOWAS
- The trade, customs, immigration, monetary and payments commission.
- The transport, telecommunication and energy commission.
- Industry, Agriculture and Natural Resources commission.
- Social and Cultural Affairs Commission.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF ECOWAS
- Trade liberalization among member states.
- Promotion of bilateral and regional co-operations.
- Promotion of common transport and communication system.
- Promotion of unity and co-operation among member states.
- Promotion of free movement of goods and people without visas to member states.
PROBLEMS/WEAKNESSES OF ECOWAS
- Inadequate funding.
- Political instability among member states.
- Language barriers.
- Lack of enthusiasm among member states.
- Lack of unity in the affairs of member states.
- Delay in ratification/implementation of decisions.
- Low level of trade among West African countries