Regional Economic Communities (RECs)

CEN-SAD | COMESA | ECCAS | ECOWAS | IGAD | SADC | UMA


Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)

The Community of Sahel-Saharan States CEN-SAD is a framework for Integration and Complementarity. It intends to work, together with the other regional economic communities and the Organization of African Unity, to strengthen peace, security and stability and achieve global economic and social development.

CEN-SAD was established on 4th February 1998 following the Conference of Leaders and Heads of States held in Tripoli (Great Jahamiriya). The Treaty on the establishment of the Community was signed by the Leader of Great El-Fateh Revolution and the Heads of State of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan. The Central African Republic and Eritrea joined the Community during the first Summit of the organization held in Syrte in April 1999. Senegal, Djibouti and Gambia joined during the N’djamena Summit in February 2000. Others countries joined later, and still more are in the process of joining the Organization.

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Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)

At a summit meeting in December 1981, the leaders of the Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC) agreed in principle to form a wider economic community of Central African states. CEEAC/ECCAS was established on 18 October 1983 by the UDEAC members and the members of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes States (CEPGL) (Burundi, Rwanda and the then Zaire) as well as Sao Tome and Principe.Angola remained an observer until 1999, when it became a full member. ECCAS began functioning in 1985, but has been inactive since 1992 because of financial difficulties (non-payment of membership fees) and the conflict in the Great Lakes area.The war in the DRC has been particularly divisive, as Rwanda and Angola fought on opposing sides.

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Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa was founded in 1993 as a successor to the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA),which was established in 1981. COMESA formally succeeded the PTA on 8 December 1994. The establishment of COMESA was a fulfilment of the requirements of the PTA Treaty, which provided for the transformation of the PTA into a common market ten years after the entry into force of the PTA Treaty.

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Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

The idea for a West African community goes back to President William Tubman of Liberia, who made the call in 1964. An agreement was signed between Côte d'Ivoire,Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in February 1965, but this came to nothing. In April 1972, General Gowon of Nigeria and General Eyadema of Togo re-launched the idea, drew up proposals and toured 12 countries, soliciting their plan from July to August 1973. A meeting was then called at Lomé from 10-15 December 1973, which studied a draft treaty. This was further examined at a meeting of experts and jurists in Accra in January 1974 and by a ministerial meeting in Monrovia in January 1975. Finally, 15 West African countries signed the treaty for an Economic Community of West African States (Treaty of Lagos) on 28 May 1975. The protocols launching ECOWAS were signed in Lomé, Togo on 5 November 1976. In July 1993, a revised ECOWAS Treaty designed to accelerate economic integration and to increase political co-operation, was signed.

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Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)

The Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) was formed in1986 with a very narrow mandate around the issues of drought and desertification. Since then, and especially in the 1990s, IGADD became the accepted vehicle for regional security and political dialogue The founding members of IGADD decided in the mid-1990s to revitalise the organisation into a fully-fledged regional political, economic, development, trade and security entity similar to SADC and ECOWAS. It was envisaged that the new IGADD would form the northern sector of COMESA with SADC representing the southern sector.

One of the principal motivations for the revitalisation of IGADD was the existence of many organisational and structural problems that made the implementation of its goals and principles ineffective. The IGADD Heads of State and Government met on 18 April 1995 at an Extraordinary Summit in Addis Ababa and resolved to revitalise the Authority and expand its areas of regional co-operation. On 21 March 1996, the Heads of State and Government at the Second Extraordinary Summit in Nairobi approved and adopted an Agreement Establishing the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD.

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Southern African Development Community (SADC)

The concept of a regional economic co-operation in Southern Africa was first discussed at a meeting of the Frontline States foreign ministers in May 1979 in Gaberone. The meeting led to an international conference in Arusha, Tanzania two months later which brought together all independent countries, with the exception of the then Rhodesia, South West Africa and South Africa, and international donor agencies. The Arusha conference in turn led to the Lusaka Summit held in the Zambian capital in April 1980. After adopting the declaration, which was to become known as ‘Southern Africa: Towards Economic Liberation’, Sir Seretse Khama was elected the first chairman of the SADCC.

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Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA)

The first Conference of Maghreb Economic Ministers in Tunis in 1964 established the Conseil Permanent Cunsultatif du Maghreb (CPCM) between Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, to coordinate and harmonize the development plans of the four countries as well as interaregional trade and relations with the EU. However, for a number of reasons, the plans never came to fruition. It was not until the late 1980s that new impetus began to bring the parties together again. The first Maghreb Summit of the five Heads of State, held at Zeralda (Algeria) in June 1988, resulted in a decision to set up the Maghreb High Commission and various specialized commissions. Finally, on February 17, 1989 in Marrakech, the Treaty establishing the AMU was signed by the Heads of State of the five countries.

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