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African Economic Integration

Many SSA countries have recently implemented difficult economic and political reforms to strengthen trade relations and business ties with the United States.

Championing the political and economic developments are the Millennium Plan for Africa (MAP) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) established as a program of the African Union (AU). “By Africans for Africa” – these four words succinctly describe a pledge by Africa’s leaders to reduce poverty and place Africa on a path of sustainable development.

The African Union (AU) and The New Partnership For Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

The African Union was formed in 2001 and has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AU basically reconstituted the Organization of African Unity (OAU) with a body modeled after the European Union.

Fifty-three nations strong, the AU aims to enhance the economic, political and social integration and development of the African people. Four new organs within the AU architecture take the form of a 15-member Peace and Security Council, a Pan-African Parliament, a Court of justice and a Central Bank.

The AU is about strengthening and accelerating regional and continental economic integration, creating a larger market size, and a much more powerful unified international voice by the member nations.

NEPAD, on the other hand, is about a new and better way of doing things in Africa, including political, institutional, economic and corporate governance of the continent to achieve a greater amount of developmental aid, influx of capital and technical assistance.

In February 2003, shortly after the first and quite successful Western Hemisphere African Diaspora Conference, which brought together representatives from North America, South America and the Caribbean, AU leaders altered the AU Constitutive Act to include the African Diaspora as the sixth region of Africa (added to North, South, East, West and Central Africa).

The Pan-African Parliament, the legislative body of the African Union, was officially opened in South Africa in 2004. The AU now has a permanent representative at the United Nations.

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Headquartered in Lusaka, Zambia, COMESA emerged in December 1994 when it was formed to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA), which had existed from the earlier days of 1981.

The 21 member countries are Angola, Burundi, Comoros, D.R. Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The main focus of the organization is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states. Its membership believes that “united we stand and divided we fall.”

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)

With its headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, SADC was originally set up in 1980 to reduce the region’s economic dependency on apartheid South Africa. In 1995, it embraced majority-ruled South Africa and set about acquiring a new political and security role

In 1996 South Africa’s economy was still about three times as large as the combined economies of the 13 other members. Member nations include Angola, Botswana, Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The organization’s mission is to reduce economic dependency; promote infrastructure rehabilitation and integration; engage sectoral policy coordination; and implement defense and security protocols.

Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)

ECCAS was established on October 18, 1983 in Libreville, Gabon where it is currently headquartered. The 10 member countries include Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Tchad, and Zaire. Its mission is to promote regional economic cooperation and establish a Central African Common Market.

East African Community (EAC)

EAC has its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. It was established on January 22, 1999 when the Heads of State of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda resolved to sign a treaty re-establishing the East African Community (EAC) that had existed from 1967 to 1977.

The 3 member countries are Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The treaty calls for a customs union, common market and monetary union, and sets the ultimate objective as the birth of a political federation of east African states.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

ECOWAS was established on May 28, 1975 in Lagos (Nigeria). The protocols launching ECOWAS were signed in Lome, Togo on November 5, 1976. In July 1993, a revised ECOWAS treaty was signed.

The 16 member countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivore, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Its mission is to promote cooperation and integration in economic, social and cultural activity, ultimately leading to the establishment of an economic and monetary union through the total integration of the national economies in West Africa.

Organisation pour ’Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en Afrique (Organization for the Harmonization of Commercial Law in Africa — OHADA)

On October 17, 1993, 16 African states signed a treaty known as the Organisation pour l’Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en Afrique (Organization for the Harmonization of Commercial Law in Africa (The OHADA Treaty)).

OHADA is a regional international organization that groups together 16 African states, mainly of the Fracophone persuasion. Its aim is to harmonize the legal and judicial systems, specifically in the field of business and corporate law. The signatories to the OHADA Treaty are also members of the CFA (common currency linked to the French Franc).

The Treaty left open the possibility of other Sub-Saharan African nations becoming members consistent with its central concept of promoting African economic integration.

OHADA aims to restore the confidence of foreign investors by providing them with a set of common and simple laws that suit modern economies, and significantly improves the prospect of African Economic and Monetary Union.