The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are regional groupings of African states. The RECs have developed individually and have differing roles and structures. Generally, the purpose of the RECs is to facilitate regional economic integration between members of the individual regions and through the wider African Economic Community (AEC), which was established under the Abuja Treaty (1991). The 1980 Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa and the Abuja Treaty proposed the creation of RECs as the basis for wider African integration, with a view to regional and eventual continental integration. The RECS are increasingly involved in coordinating AU Member States’ interests in wider areas such as peace and security, development and governance.
The RECs are closely integrated with the AU’s work and serve as its building blocks. The relationship between the AU and the RECs is mandated by the Abuja Treaty and the AU Constitutive Act, and guided by the: 2008 Protocol on Relations between the RECs and the AU; and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Area of Peace and Security between the AU, RECs and the Coordinating Mechanisms of the Regional Standby Brigades of Eastern and Northern Africa.
The AU recognises eight RECs, the:
• Arab Maghreb Union (UMA)
• Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
• Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD)
• East African Community (EAC)
• Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
• Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
• Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)2
• Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In addition, the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordination Mechanism (EASFCOM) and North
African Regional Capability (NARC) both have liaison offices at the AU.
The Protocol on Relations between the RECs and the AU provides a coordination framework between the AEC and the RECs. This framework has the following two elements.
1. UMA is not a signatory to the Protocol on Relations between the RECs and the AU.
2. In October 2013, on the sidelines of an AU Extraordinary Summit, IGAD and EAC Foreign Ministers decided to explore the possibility of merging these two RECs.
Committee on Coordination
The Committee provides policy advice and oversight of implementation of the Protocol (article
7). It is also tasked with coordinating and monitoring progress made by the RECs in meeting the regional integration goal stages detailed in article 6 of the Abuja Treaty.
The Committee comprises the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Chief Executives of the RECs, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Chief Executives of the AU financial institutions.
Under article 8 of the Protocol, the Committee must meet at least twice a year. It is chaired by the Chairperson of the AU Commission. Committee decisions are taken by consensus or, when consensus cannot be reached, by a simple majority of the members present and voting. Committee decisions are forwarded to the Executive Council as policy recommendations. Committee members may be accompanied to meetings by experts and advisers.
Committee of Secretariat Officials
The Committee prepares technical reports for consideration by the Committee on Coordination (article 9 of the Protocol). It comprises AU Commission senior officials responsible for community affairs, as well as UNECA and AfDB senior officials.
The Committee meets at least twice a year, prior to Committee on Coordination meetings, and is chaired by the AU Commission. Committee decisions are reached by consensus or, when consensus is lacking, by simple majority vote (article 9).
Arab Maghreb Union (UMA)
73 Rue Tensift Agdal
Secretary-General: Habib Ben Yahia, Tunisia (appointed by the Council of the Presidency on
1 February 2006)
The Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) was established under the Marrakech Treaty of 1989 with the primary purposes of: strengthening ties between the five member states; promoting prosperity; defending national rights; and adopting common policies to promote the free movement of people, services, goods and capital within the region.
Article 3 of the Treaty provides that the Union’s objectives are to promote:
• Close diplomatic ties and dialogue between Member States while safeguarding their independence
• Mechanisms for Member States’ industrial, commercial and social development including through common sectoral programmes
• Measures to support Islamic values and the safeguarding of the National Arabic identity through mechanisms such as cultural exchange, research and education programmes.
UMA is a political-level body supported by a secretariat whose headquarters are located in
Rabat, Morocco. The structures set out in the Marrakech Treaty are:
• Council of the Presidency, which is the supreme decision-making organ
• Council of the Prime Ministers, which coordinates policy
• Council of Foreign Ministers, which prepares Presidency sessions and examines Follow-up
• Follow-up Committee, a national officials-level committee tasked with implementing
• Four Special Ministerial Committees, which deal with thematic areas
• General Secretariat, which is the executive for the Union and Consultative Council
• A consultative council, which is composed of legislative representatives from each country and tasked with sharing opinions and recommendations on draft Council of the
In addition, the Marrakech Treaty provides for a range of other institutions including the: Judicial Authority, composed of two judges from each state, and with the authority to interpret or rule on issues relating to UMA; Maghreb University and Academy; and Investment and External Trade Bank.
The Marrakech Treaty provides for the Council of the Presidency to meet once a year in ordinary session and in extraordinary session as required. The Council of the Presidency is the only decision-making body. Decisions are taken unanimously. Under the Treaty, the Presidency should rotate every year although it has not always done so.
In recent years, the UMA institutions have met infrequently. The most recent meeting of the
Council of the Presidency took place in 1994.
Algeria Libya Mauritania
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
Ben Bella Rd Lusaka Zambia
Tel: +260 211 229 725/35
Fax: +260 211 225 107
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Common-Market-for-Eastern-and-Southern-Africa- COMESA/412768245606
Chairperson: Joseph Kabila, DR Congo (appointed on rotation in February 2014 for a one-year term) Secretary-General: Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya, Zimbabwe (reappointed by the COMESA Authority in November 2012 for a second five-year term)
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was established in 1993 by the COMESA Treaty, which has the primary purpose of creating a free trade region. Article 3 of the Treaty provides that the aims and objectives of COMESA are to: attain sustainable growth and development of Member States; promote joint development in all fields of economic activity; cooperate in the creation of an enabling environment for foreign, cross-border and domestic investment; promote peace, security and stability among the Member States; and cooperate in strengthening relations between the Common Market and the rest of the world.
Regional trade integration was first proposed in 1978 by the Lusaka Declaration of Intent and Commitment to the Establishment of a Preferential Trade Area (PTA) for Eastern and Southern Africa, which entered into force in 1982. The Common Market envisaged in the PTA was created in 1993 under the COMESA Treaty.
COMESA is accountable to the Heads of State and Government of its 19 Member States. Its structure includes the Council of Ministers, responsible for policy making; 12 technical committees; and a series of subsidiary advisory bodies. Overall coordination is managed by
the COMESA Secretariat, which is based in Lusaka, Zambia. Several other institutions promote sub-regional cooperation and development, including the COMESA:
• Trade and Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA Bank) in Bujumbura, Burundi
• Clearing House in Harare, Zimbabwe
• Association of Commercial Banks in Harare, Zimbabwe
• Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
• Re-Insurance Company (ZEP-RE) in Nairobi, Kenya
• African Trade Insurance Agency in Nairobi, Kenya
• Competition Commission in Lilongwe, Malawi
• Regional Investment Agency in Cairo, Egypt
• Monetary Institute in Nairobi, Kenya
• Federation of Women in Business (FEMCOM) in Lilongwe, Malawi
• Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) in Lusaka, Zambia
• Business Council (CBC) in Lusaka, Zambia
In addition, a Court of Justice was established under the Treaty to deal with issues pertaining to COMESA. The Court became operational in 1998.
COMESA Heads of State and Government meet at an annual summit to make policy decisions and elect representatives. COMESA may also hold extraordinary meetings at the request of
any of its members. Summit decisions are reached by consensus. The office of Chairperson is held for one year in rotation among the Member States. The Summit discusses business submitted to it by the Council of Ministers (which meets twice each year) and any other matter that may have a bearing on COMESA. The most recent summit took place from
26 to 27 February 2014 in Kinchasa, DR Congo.
1. As at 1 September 2014, South Sudan’s membership application was under consideration.
Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD)
PO Box 4041
President: Idriss Déby Itno, Chad (appointed by the 12th Conference of Heads of State and
Government in July 2010)
Secretary-General: Ibrahim Sani Abani, Niger (appointed by the Conference of Heads of State and
Government during an extraordinary session in February 2013)
The Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD) was formed in 1998 with the primary objective of promoting the economic, cultural, political and social integration of its Member States. Article 1 of the Treaty establishing the Community provides that the aims and objectives of CEN–SAD are to:
• Establish a comprehensive economic union with a particular focus in the agricultural, industrial, social, cultural and energy fields
• Adopt measures to promote free movement of individuals and capital
• Promote measures to encourage foreign trade, transportation and telecommunications among Member States
• Promote measures to coordinate educational systems
• Promote cooperation in cultural, scientific and technical fields.
CEN–SAD is governed by its Conference of Heads of State and Government. The organisation’s structure includes the:
• Executive Council, which meets at ministerial level to implement Conference decisions
• Special Ministerial Councils, which deal with thematic issues
• General Secretariat, which is the Community’s executive body
• Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ESCC), which follows Executive Council directives
• Sahel–Saharan Investment and Trade Bank.
The Conference of Heads of State and Government meets once a year in ordinary session, rotating among Member State capitals. It can meet in extraordinary session at the request of one Member State.
The organisation’s most recent Conference of Heads of State and Government was held in February 2013 in Ndjamena, Chad. The CEN–SAD Executive Council met in March 2014 in Khartoum, Sudan. The same meeting decided that Morocco would host the next CEN–SAD Conference of Heads of State and Government. The date was to be set separately.
Central African Republic
São Tomé and Príncipe
East African Community (EAC)
3 EAC Close
East African Community Headquarters
PO Box 1096
UR of Tanzania
Tel: +255 27 216 2100
Fax: +255 27 216 2190
Chairperson: Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya (elected on rotation in November 2013 for a one-year term) Secretary-General: Richard Sezibera, Rwanda (appointed on 19 April 2011 for a five-year term)
The East African Community (EAC) was initiated in 1999 as the regional inter-governmental organisation of the five East African countries. Article 5 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community states that the objectives of the community shall be “to develop policies and programmes aimed at widening and deepening co-operation among the Partner States in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security and legal and judicial affairs, for their mutual benefit”. The EAC countries established a Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in 2010. EAC aims to create a monetary union as the next step in integration and ultimately become a political federation of East African states.
The EAC was first formed in 1967 but collapsed in 1977 because of political differences. In
1993, the Agreement for the Establishment of the Permanent Tripartite Commission (PTC) for East African Co-operation was established, and, in 1996, the Commission’s Secretariat was launched. In 1997, leaders directed the PTC to upgrade the Agreement establishing the Commission into a treaty. This Treaty entered into force on 7 July 2000 following its ratification by the original three partner states – Kenya, Uganda and UR of Tanzania. Rwanda and
Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on 18 June 2007 and became full members of the community from 1 July 2007.
The EAC is overseen by the Summit of Heads of State and Government, which gives general direction on the Community’s goals and objectives. Its structure also includes the Council of Ministers, which is the main decision-making institution; 14 ministerial-level sectoral councils; East Africa Legislative Assembly; East African Court of Justice; and Coordination Committee. The Coordination Committee is responsible for regional cooperation and coordinates the activities of the sectoral councils. The Secretariat, which is the EAC executive organ, ensures that regulations and directives adopted by the Council are properly implemented.
The Summit meets at least once a year and may hold extraordinary meetings at the request
of any of its members. Summit decisions are reached by consensus. The office of Chairperson is held for one year in rotation among the partner states. The Summit discusses business submitted to it by the Council (which meets twice a year) and any other matter that may have a bearing on the EAC.
Burundi Kenya Rwanda
UR of Tanzania
South Sudan was granted observer status in November 2012, pending consideration of its application for full admission.
Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
BP: 2112 Libreville
Tel: +241 444 731
Fax: +241 444 732
Chair: Idriss Déby Itno, Chad (appointed in October 2009; reappointed in January 2012 for a further term scheduled to end in November 2014)
Secretary General: Ahmad Allam-Mi, Chad (appointed by the Chairperson on 29 July 2013 for a four-year term, renewable once)
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) was formed in 1983 by the Treaty Establishing the Economic Community of Central African States. It has the primary objectives of promoting Member States’ economic and social development and improving people’s living conditions. Article 4 of the Treaty provides that the Community’s objectives are to:
• Achieve collective autonomy
• Raise the standard of living of its populations
• Maintain economic stability through harmonious cooperation.
The 1999 Malabo Heads of State and Government Conference set out four priority fields for the organisation. These are to: develop capacities to maintain peace, security and stability as essential prerequisites for economic and social development; develop physical, economic and monetary integration; develop a culture of human integration; and establish an autonomous financing mechanism for ECCAS.
The ECCAS Treaty was signed in October 1983 in Libreville, Gabon, and entered into force in December 1984. Following internal crises in many member states, ECCAS ceased activities between 1992 and 1998. ECCAS was revitalised by a Heads of State and Government decision at the 1998 Summit in Libreville.
ECCAS is governed by its Conference of Heads of State and Government, which is the supreme organ. Its structure also includes the:
• Council of Ministers, which oversees policy implementation
• General Secretariat, which fulfils the Community’s executive functions
• Court of Justice, which has the jurisdiction to rule on the legality of decisions, directives and regulations of the Community
• Technical specialised committees, which formulate policy recommendations in thematic areas
• Consultative Commission, which operates at expert level to support research and implementation of ECCAS programmes and decisions.
ECCAS also has three specialised agencies, the:
• Energy Pool of Central Africa
• Commission of Forests of Central Africa
• Regional Committee of the Gulf of Guinea Fishing.
Under article 14 of the ECCAS Treaty, the Conference meets annually. The Council meets twice a year in ordinary session, once prior to the Conference. It can also meet as required in extraordinary session.
Angola Burundi Cameroon
Central African Republic
São Tomé and Príncipe
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
101, Yakubu Gowon Crescent
Asokoro District PMB
Authority Chairperson: John Dramani Mahama, Ghana (elected by the ECOWAS Assembly in March
2014 for a one-year term)
Commission President: Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso (appointed by the Authority of
Heads of State and Government in February 2012 for a four-year term)
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established by the ECOWAS Treaty in May 1975 with the primary objective of promoting economic integration in “all fields
of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters”.
Article 3(1) of the ECOWAS Treaty provides that the aims of the Community are to:
• Promote cooperation and integration in the region, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the living standards of its peoples
• Maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among Member States and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent.
ECOWAS is governed by its Authority of Heads of State and Government. The Authority
Chairperson is usually elected for a one-year term. ECOWAS’s structure includes the:
• Council of Ministers, which oversees policy implementation
• Commission (Secretariat until 2006), which carries out all executive functions
• Community Parliament, which represents all the peoples of West Africa
• Economic and Social Council, which considers economic and social matters
• Community Court of Justice, which interprets the ECOWAS Treaty and adjudicates on matters arising out of obligations under ECOWAS law
• Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development
• Six specialised technical commissions
• Bank for Infrastructure and Development.
In addition, the private sector organisations Ecobank (Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI)) and Ecomarine International (shipping) are associated with the ECOWAS system. ECOWAS also oversees 12 specialised agencies, the:
• West African Health Organisation (WAHO)
• West African Monetary Agency (WAMA)
• West African Monetary Institute (WAMI)
• ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre (EYSDC)
• ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (EGDC)
• Water Resources Coordination Unit (WRCU)
• ECOWAS Brown Card
• West African Power Pool (WAPP)
• Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in
West Africa (GIABA)
• West African Regional Health Programme (PRSAO)
• ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE)
• ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA).
The Authority of Heads of State and Government meets at least once a year. It may also meet in extraordinary session.
Benin Burkina Faso Cabo Verde Côte d’Ivoire Gambia
Niger Nigeria Senegal Sierra Leone Togo
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
Avenue Georges Clemenceau
PO Box 2653
Republic of Djibouti
Chairperson: Hailemariam Dessalegn, Ethiopia (elected by the IGAD Assembly in January 2013)1
Head of Secretariat: Mahboub Maalim, Kenya (appointed by the IGAD Assembly on 14 June 2008 for a four-year term; reappointed in July 2012 for a second four-year term)
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was established in 1996 to
represent the interests of states in the Eastern Africa region. Under article 7 of the Agreement establishing IGAD, its aims and objectives include promoting joint development strategies; harmonising Member States’ policies; achieving regional food security; initiating sustainable development of natural resources; promoting peace and stability in the sub-region; and mobilising resources for the implementation of programmes within the framework of sub- regional cooperation.
IGAD is the successor to the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), which was founded in 1986 to address the recurring droughts and other natural disasters that had caused severe hardship in the region. The revitalised Authority’s mandate increased to include promoting greater regional political and economic cooperation as well as addressing peace and security issues. It also implemented a new organisational structure.
The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government is the organisation’s supreme
policy-making organ, determining its objectives, guidelines and programmes. IGAD’s structure also includes the Council of Ministers, which formulates policy, approves the work programme and the Secretariat’s annual budget, and the Committee of Ambassadors, which facilitates the Council’s work and guides the Executive Secretary (head of the Secretariat). The Council is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and one other minister designated by each Member State. The Executive Secretary is appointed by the Assembly to run the organisation’s day-to-day affairs.
1 Ethiopia was initially elected for a one-year term but as of 1 September 2014 remained as Chair.
Other bodies include the:
• Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU–IGAD), which came into existence after its establishing Protocol came into force in November 2007. It is composed of IGAD Member States’ Speakers of Parliament.
• Civil Society Forum, which was established in 2003 to resuscitate the interface between the IGAD Secretariat and non-governmental and civil society organisations in the region.
• Partners Forum (IPF), which was formed in January 1997 to replace and formalise IGAD’s relationships with the ‘Friends of IGAD’, a group of partners working closely with the Secretariat.
The Assembly Summit meets at least once a year and may hold extraordinary meetings at the request of any of its members. Summit decisions are reached by consensus. The office of Chairperson is usually held for one year in rotation among the Member States. The Summit discusses business submitted to it by the Council (which meets twice each year) and any other matter that may have a bearing on IGAD. The Committee of Ambassadors convenes as often
as the need arises.
Kenya Somalia South Sudan
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Plot No 54385
Central Business District
Private Bag 0095
Chairperson: Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe (elected by the SADC Assembly in August 2014 for a one-year term)
Head of Secretariat: Tomaz Augusto Salomão, Mozambique (appointed by the SADC Assembly in
August 2005 for a five-year term; reappointed in July 2010 for a second five-year term)
The South African Development Community (SADC) was formed on 17 August 1992.
Under article 5 of the Treaty establishing SADC, as amended in 2001, its objectives include:
promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and development; promoting
common political values and systems; consolidating democracy, peace, security and stability; achieving complementarity between national and regional strategies; maximising productive employment and use of resources; achieving sustainable use of natural resources and effective protection of the environment; and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
1 Eritrea’s membership is currently in suspense.
SADC is the successor to the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC), which was established in 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia. The transformation of SADCC into SADC in 1992 redefined the basis of cooperation among Member States from a loose association into a legally binding arrangement and formalised the intention to spearhead the economic integration of the Southern Africa region.
SADC is accountable to the Summit of Heads of State or Government. Its structure includes the: Heads of State-level Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, which is responsible for policy direction on regional peace and security issues between summits; Council of Ministers, which is responsible for the implementation of summit policy decisions; Secretariat, which is the executive body for SADC and headed by the Executive Secretary; Tribunal (based in Windhoek, Namibia), which interprets provisions of the SADC Treaty; Standing Committee of Officials, which offers technical advice to the Council of Ministers; and SADC national committees (SNCs), which deal with thematic issues. Decision-making
is by consensus, except in the Tribunal, SNCs and Secretariat.
The Summit meets at least once a year and may hold extraordinary meetings at the request
of any of its members. Summit decisions are reached by consensus. The office of Chairperson is held for one year in rotation among the partner states. The Summit discusses business submitted to it by the Council (which meets twice each year) and any other matter that may have a bearing on SADC.
Angola Botswana DR Congo Lesotho Madagascar
Malawi Mauritius Mozambique Namibia Seychelles
UR of Tanzania Zambia Zimbabwe
Other Regional Bodies Related to the AU
International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)
Avenue du Gouvernement BRB Building, Second floor PO Box 7076
Chairperson: Eduardo dos Santos, Angola (elected by the ICGLR Assembly in March 2014 for a two-year term)
Executive Secretary: Ntumba Luamba, DR Congo (since December 2011; appointed by the ICGLR Heads of State and Government)
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) is an inter-governmental organisation of the countries in the region. It was established in 2003 to address the regional dimension to conflicts affecting the Great Lakes and give momentum to efforts to promote sustainable peace and development. The AU is an ICGLR formal partner. The AU Commission provides technical, diplomatic and financial support to the ICGLR. It also works in cooperation with the ICGLR in the framework of its activities.
In November 2004, the ICGLR Heads of State and Government unanimously adopted the Declaration on Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes Region, in Dar es Salaam, UR of Tanzania. In 2006, the Pact on Security, Stability and Development was signed in
Nairobi, Kenya. The Pact included the Dar es Salaam Declaration and associated Programmes of Action and Protocols. This marked the end of the ICGLR preparatory phase and start of the implementation period. The ICGLR Executive Secretariat was established in May 2007 in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The Heads of State and Government Summit is ICGLR’s supreme organ and is chaired
by a member country’s Head of State or Government in rotation. ICGLR’s executive organ comprises member countries’ Foreign Affairs Ministers. Other important structures include the National Coordination and Collaboration Mechanism and the Executive Secretariat.
The Summit is held every two years. An extraordinary session may be convened at the request of a Member State and with the consent of the majority of Member States present and voting. The executive organ meets in ordinary session twice a year. It may also meet in extraordinary session on the request of a Member State and with the consent of a majority of the 12
Central African Republic
DR Congo Kenya Rwanda South Sudan
UR of Tanzania