Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) includes Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the members of UEMOA – Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Niger and Togo. With the population of just over 335 million ECOWAS represent approximately one-third of sub-Saharan Africa’s total population. Population size ranges from Cape Verde (539,000) to Nigeria (177,156,000), while gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranges from USD 800 in Niger to USD 4,400 in Cape Verde. Nigeria will account for nearly 78 percent of ECOWAS’ GDP in 2015, being the biggest economy on the continent. The sub regions’ real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is projected to hit 7.1 percent in 2015 as against 6.3 percent in 2014.
ECOWAS’ Common External Tariff was introduced on January 1, 2015. However, the adopted ECOWAS CET does not reflect intended progress towards trade liberalization as individual countries still have sovereignty over imposition of taxes, quotas, import ban, etc. The member countries are also allowed to continue to employ restrictive trade policies on many food and agricultural products. However, informal Benin-Nigeria cross-border trade will continue to flourish.
By 2020 ECOWAS aims to introduce a single currency. The introduction of a single tariff regime would kick-start stalled negotiations with the European Union on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Recently H.E. John Dramani Mahama, the President of Ghana, has been elected Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). On January, 20th 2015 in Berlin (Germany) he will address the role of ECOWAS in West Africa and present his vision of how a region can be connected in a better way. H. E. John Dramani Mahama will also present concrete measures to boost growth of his country, Ghana. In particular, the promotion of
oil and gas reserves off the coast which will significantly influence the development of the energy sector and the country’s economy.