African Economic Community

The African Economic Community (AEC) is an organization of African Union states establishing grounds for mutual economic development among the majority of African states. The stated goals of the organization include the creation of free trade areas, customs unions, a single market, a central bank, and a common currency (see African Monetary Union) thus establishing an economic and monetary union.

Map of the African Union
  members of AEC pillar blocs


Currently there are multiple regional blocs in Africa, also known as Regional Economic Communities (RECs), many of which have overlapping memberships. The RECs consist primarily of trade blocs and, in some cases, some political and military cooperation. Most of these RECs form the "pillars" of AEC, many of which also have an overlap in some of their member states. Due to this high proportion of overlap it is likely that some states with several memberships will eventually drop out of one or more RECs. Several of these pillars also contain subgroups with tighter customs and/or monetary unions of their own:

These pillars and their corresponding subgroups are as follows:

Pillars Subgroups
Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
East African Community (EAC)
Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)

West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ)

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
Arab Maghreb Union (UMA)

Pillar membership

Founding states (1998):

Joined later:

Founding states (1994):

Joined later:

Former members:
Founding states (1975):

Joined later:

Former members:
UEMOA-94: UEMOA state from 1994

UEMOA-97: UEMOA state from 1997
WAMZ-00: WAMZ state from 2000
WAMZ-10: WAMZ state from 2010

Founding states (2001):

Joined later:

Founding states (1985):

Joined later:

CEMAC-99: CEMAC state from 1999
Founding states (1980):

Joined later:

SACU-70: SACU state from 1970

SACU-90: SACU state from 1990

Founding states (1986):

Joined later:

Founding states (1989):

1 The Arab Maghreb Union does not participate in the AEC so far, because of opposition by Morocco

SomalilandCape VerdeSahrawi Arab Democratic RepublicSouth SudanLiberiaGuineaSierra LeoneGhanaNigeriaGambiaIvory CoastBeninGuinea-BissauSenegalTogoBurkina FasoNigerMoroccoTunisiaLibyaMauritaniaAlgeriaEgyptSomaliaComorosEritreaSudanDjiboutiEthiopiaUgandaRwandaBurundiDemocratic Republic of the CongoKenyaSão Tomé and PríncipeChadCameroonCentral African RepublicRepublic of the CongoGabonEquatorial GuineaAngolaMozambiqueNamibiaSouth AfricaBotswanaEswatiniZimbabweMauritiusZambiaMalawiSeychellesMadagascarTanzaniaLesothoCommunity of Sahel-Saharan StatesArab Maghreb UnionCommon Market for Eastern and Southern AfricaEast African CommunityEconomic Community of the Great Lakes CountriesSouthern African Development CommunitySouthern African Customs UnionEconomic Community of Central African StatesEconomic and Monetary Community of Central AfricaWest African Economic and Monetary UnionLiptako–Gourma AuthorityMaliEconomic Community of West African StatesIntergovernmental Authority on DevelopmentAfrican UnionMano River UnionWest African Monetary Zone
The image above contains clickable links
Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational African entities v • t • e
RECs of the AEC
REC pillars of the African Economic Community.
Active RECs of the AEC
Active REC pillars of the African Economic Community.

Other blocs

Other trade blocks in Africa
Other trade blocs in Africa not part of the African Economic Community.

Other African regional blocs, not participating in the AEC (their members can be part of other regional blocs which do participate), are the following.

Their membership is as follows:

2005 membership:

Joined later:

1976 membership: 1984 membership: 1970 membership: 1973 membership:

Joined later:

1 Only African GAFTA members are listed.
GAFTA and MRU are the only blocs not currently stalled.


The AEC founded through the Abuja Treaty, signed in 1991 and entered into force in 1994 is envisioned to be created in six stages:

  1. (to be completed in 1999) Creation of regional blocs in regions where such do not yet exist
  2. (to be completed in 2007) Strengthening of intra-REC integration and inter-REC harmonisation
  3. (to be completed in 2017) Establishing of a free trade area and customs union in each regional bloc
  4. (to be completed in 2019) Establishing of a continent-wide customs union (and thus also a free trade area)
  5. (to be completed in 2023) Establishing of a continent-wide African Common Market (ACM)
  6. (to be completed in 2028) Establishing of a continent-wide economic and monetary union (and thus also a currency union) and Parliament
  • End of all transition periods: 2034 at the latest

Stages progress

as of September 2007

  • Stage 1: Completed, only Arab Maghreb Union members and Sahrawi Republic not participating. Somalia is participating, but no practical implementation yet.
  • Stage 2: Steady progress, nothing factual to check.
  • Stage 3:
  Regional blocs - pillars of the African Economic Community (AEC)
CEMAC Common UEMOA WAMZ Common SACU Common
Free Trade Area stalled progressing 1 fully in force fully in force proposed for 2007 ? fully in force proposed stalled fully in force progressing 2 stalled
Customs Union stalled proposed for 2008 fully in force fully in force proposed for 2011 ? fully in force proposed for 2007 stalled fully in force proposed for 2010 stalled

1 Members not yet participating: DR Congo (in talks to join), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Seychelles (in talks to join), Swaziland (on derogation until SACU gives permission for Swaziland to join the FTA), Uganda (to join very soon)[1]
2 Members not yet participating: Angola, DR Congo, Seychelles [2]

  • Stage 4: In March 2018, 49 African countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement paving the way for a continent-wide free trade area. As of April 2019, 22 signatories have ratified the agreement, reaching the threshold needed for it to come into force. The continental free trade area is planned to become operational in July 2019.[4]
  • Stage 5: no progress yet
  • Stage 6: no progress yet

Overall progress

Regional bloc Free Trade Area Economic and monetary union Free Travel Political pact Defence pact
Customs Union Single Market Currency Union Visa-free Border-less
AEC proposed for 2019 proposed for 2019 proposed for 2023 proposed for 2028 proposed for 2020 proposed for 2020 proposed for 2028 proposed for 2028
CEN-SAD proposed for 2010
COMESA in force 1 proposed for 2008 ? proposed for 2018
EAC in force in force proposed for 2015 proposed for 2024 proposed for 2018[5] ? proposed for 2023
ECCAS CEMAC in force in force ? in force
Common proposed for 2007 ? proposed for 2011 ? proposed proposed proposed ? in force
ECOWAS UEMOA in force in force proposed[6] in force
WAMZ ? proposed for 2012
Common proposed 2 proposed for 2007 proposed[7] proposed in force 1 proposed proposed in force
SADC SACU in force in force de facto in force 1 ?
Common[3] proposed for 2008 3 proposed for 2010 proposed for 2015 proposed for 2016

1 not all members participating yet
2 telecommunications, transport and energy - proposed
3 sensitive goods to be covered from 2012

African Free Trade Zone

The African Free Trade Zone (AFTZ) was announced on Wednesday October 22, 2008 by the heads of Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).

In May 2012 the idea was extended to also include ECOWAS, ECCAS and AMU.[8]

See also

African Economic Community
blocs (REC)
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) ($US) Member
in millions per capita
AEC 29,910,442 853,520,010 2,053,706 2,406 54
ECOWAS 5,112,903 349,154,000 1,322,452 3,888 15
ECCAS 6,667,421 121,245,958 175,928 1,451 11
SADC 9,882,959 233,944,179 737,335 3,152 15
EAC 2,440,409 169,519,847 411,813 2,429 6
COMESA 12,873,957 406,102,471 735,599 1,811 20
IGAD 5,233,604 187,969,775 225,049 1,197 7
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) ($US) Member
in millions per capita
CEMAC 2 3,020,142 34,970,529 85,136 2,435 6
SACU 2,693,418 51,055,878 541,433 10,605 5
UEMOA 1 3,505,375 80,865,222 101,640 1,257 8
UMA 2 5,782,140 84,185,073 491,276 5,836 5
GAFTA 3 5,876,960 166,259,603 635,450 3,822 5
1 Economic bloc inside a pillar REC

2 Proposed for pillar REC, but objecting participation
3 Non-African members of GAFTA are excluded from figures

  smallest value among the blocs compared
  largest value among the blocs compared

During 2004. Source: CIA World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database


  1. ^ a b "SADC, COMESA and the EAC: Conflicting regional and trade agendas". Institute for Global Dialogue. October 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  2. ^ "African integration is great but has its hurdles". New Vision. 26 May 2010. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  3. ^ Mugisha, Ivan R. (2010-08-20). "Rwanda back to Central Africa bloc, 10 years on". Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  4. ^ Kede, Shoshana (2 April 2019). "Africa free trade agreement gets last ratification from Gambia". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  5. ^ Ligami, Christabel (2017-04-17). "East Africa e-passports to be issued in 2018". Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  6. ^ WT/COMTD/N/11 Archived 2009-03-25 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ WT/COMTD/N/21 Archived 2009-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Africa free trade zone in operation by 2018
African Monetary Union

The African Monetary Union is the proposed creation of an economic and monetary union for the countries of the African Union, administered by the African Central Bank. Such a union would call for the creation of a new unified currency, similar to the euro; the hypothetical currency is sometimes referred to as the afro or afriq.The Abuja Treaty, an international agreement signed on June 3, 1991, in Abuja, Nigeria, created the African Economic Community, and called for an African Central Bank to follow by 2028. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community with a single currency by 2023.

African Union

The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa, with exception of various territories of European possessions located in Africa. The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa. The intention of the AU is to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments. The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa.

The African Union has an area of around 29 million km2 (11 million sq mi) and includes popular world landmarks, including the Sahara and the Nile. The primary languages spoken include Arabic, English, French and Portuguese and the languages of Africa. Within the African Union, there are official bodies such as the Peace and Security Council and the Pan-African Parliament.

African Union Commission

The Commission of the African Union acts as the executive/administrative branch or secretariat of the AU (and is somewhat analogous to the European Commission). It consists of a number of Commissioners dealing with different areas of policy. The Commission is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It should be distinguished from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, (based in Banjul, Gambia), which is a separate body that reports to the African Union.

African Union law

African Union law is the body of law comprising treaties, resolutions and decisions that have direct and indirect application to the member States of the African Union (AU). Similar to European Union law, AU law regulates the behavior of countries party to the regional body.

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a free trade area with twenty-one member states stretching from Tunisia to Eswatini. COMESA was formed in December 1994, replacing a Preferential Trade Area which had existed since 1981. Nine of the member states formed a free trade area in 2000 (Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe), with Rwanda and Burundi joining the FTA in 2004, the Comoros and Libya in 2006, Seychelles in 2009 and Tunisia and Somalia in 2018.

COMESA is one of the pillars of the African Economic Community.

In 2008, COMESA agreed to an expanded free-trade zone including members of two other African trade blocs, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). COMESA is also considering a common visa scheme to boost tourism.

Community of Sahel-Saharan States

The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD; Arabic: تجمع دول الساحل والصحراء; French: Communauté des Etats Sahélo-Sahariens; Portuguese: Comunidade dos Estados Sahelo-Saarianos) aims to create a free trade area within Africa. There are questions with regard to whether its level of economic integration qualifies it under the enabling clause of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

East African Community

The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organization composed of six countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, is the EAC's chairman. The organisation was founded in 1967, collapsed in 1977, and was revived on 7 July 2000. In 2008, after negotiations with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the EAC agreed to an expanded free trade area including the member states of all three organizations. The EAC is an integral part of the African Economic Community.

The EAC is a potential precursor to the establishment of the East African Federation, a proposed federation of its members into a single sovereign state. In 2010, the EAC launched its own common market for goods, labour, and capital within the region, with the goal of creating a common currency and eventually a full political federation. In 2013, a protocol was signed outlining their plans for launching a monetary union within 10 years. In September 2018 a committee was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution.

Economic Community of Central African States

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS; French: Communauté Économique des États de l'Afrique Centrale, CEEAC; Spanish: Comunidad Económica de los Estados de África Central, CEEAC; Portuguese: Comunidade Económica dos Estados da África Central, CEEAC) is an Economic Community of the African Union for promotion of regional economic co-operation in Central Africa. It "aims to achieve collective autonomy, raise the standard of living of its populations and maintain economic stability through harmonious cooperation".

Economic Community of West African States

The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS, is a regional economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Collectively, these countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi), and in 2015 had an estimated population of over 349 million.

The union was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, with its stated mission to promote economic integration across the region. A revised version of the treaty was agreed and signed on 24 July 1993 in Cotonou. Considered one of the pillar regional blocs of the continent-wide African Economic Community (AEC), the stated goal of ECOWAS is to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for its member states by creating a single large trade bloc by building a full economic and trading union.

ECOWAS also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region, with member states occasionally sending joint military forces to intervene in the bloc's member countries at times of political instability and unrest. In recent years these included interventions in Ivory Coast in 2003, Liberia in 2003, Guinea-Bissau in 2012, Mali in 2013, and Gambia in 2017.ECOWAS includes two sub-regional blocs:

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known by its French-language acronym UEMOA) is an organization of eight, mainly French-speaking, states within the ECOWAS which share a customs union and currency union. Established in 1994 and intended to counterbalance the dominance of English-speaking economies in the bloc (such as Nigeria and Ghana), members of UEMOA are mostly former territories of French West Africa. The currency they all use is the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro.

The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), established in 2000, comprises six mainly English-speaking countries within ECOWAS which plan to work towards adopting their own common currency, the eco.ECOWAS operates in three co-official languages—French, English, and Portuguese, and consists of two institutions to implement policies: the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), formerly known as the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001. A few members of the organization have come and gone over the years. In 1976 Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, and in December 2000 Mauritania withdrew, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.

In 2011, ECOWAS adopted its development blueprint for the next decade, Vision 2020, and, to accompany it, a Policy on Science and Technology (ECOPOST).

Economy of the African Union

The combined states of the African Union (AU) constitute the world's 11th largest economy with a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2263 billion. By measuring GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP), the African Union's economy totals US$1.515 trillion, ranking it 11th after Russia. At the same time, they have a combined total debt of US$200 billion.

The AU has only 2% of the world's international trade. But because over 90% of international trade consists of currency futures, Africa's 2% actually makes up the bulk of real commodity traded worldwide to include about 70% of the world's strategic minerals, including gold and aluminium. Africa is also a large market for European, American and Chinese industry.

The AU future confederation's goals include the creation of a free trade area, a customs union, a single market, a central bank, and a common currency, thereby establishing economic and monetary union. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community with a single currency by 2023.

Executive Council of the African Union

The Executive Council of the African Union is made up of ministers designated by the governments of member countries. They discuss issues of concern and prepare material for the Assembly, to whom they are responsible. They make decisions on five different topics:

foreign trade

social security




History of the African Union

The African Union is a geo-political entity covering the entirety of the African continent.

Its origin dates back to the First Congress of Independence African States, held in Accra, Ghana, from 15 to 22 April 1958. The conference aimed at forming the Africa Day to mark the liberation movement, each year, regarding the willingness of the African people to free themselves from foreign dictatorship, as well as subsequent attempts to unite Africa, including the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on 25 May 1963, and the African Economic Community in 1981.

Critics argued that the OAU in particular did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it the "Dictators' Club".The idea of creating the AU was revived in the mid-1990s under the leadership of Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi: the heads of state and government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration (named after Sirte, in Libya) on September 9, 1999 calling for the establishment of an African Union. The Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted, and at Lusaka in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted. During the same period, the initiative for the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), was also established.

Intergovernmental Authority on Development

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is an eight-country trade bloc in Africa. It includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes. Its headquarters are in Djibouti City.

Pan-African Parliament

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP), also known as the African Parliament, is the legislative body of the African Union and held its inaugural session in March 2004. The PAP exercises oversight, and has advisory and consultative powers, lasting for the first five years. Initially the seat of the Pan-African Parliament was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but it was later moved to Midrand, South Africa.

On 28 October 2009, the second legislature of the Pan-African Parliament opened its first ordinary session and began a new 5-year mandate. South African president, Jacob Zuma, gave the opening speech and called for the PAP to be given full legislative powers and its members elected by universal suffrage.

Permanent Representatives' Committee of the African Union

The Permanent Representatives' Committee of the African Union is made up of nominated representatives of member countries by the African Union.

Chair - Nigeria

1st Vice-Chair - Republic of Congo

2nd Vice-Chair - Rwanda

3rd Vice-Chair - Libya

Rapporteur - Botswana

They prepare the work for the Executive Council.

Regional Economic Communities

The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa group together individual countries in subregions for the purposes of achieving greater economic integration. They are described as the 'building blocks' of the African Union (AU) and are also central to the strategy for implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Secretariat of the Pan-African Parliament

In order to allow the Pan-African Parliament's functions to be carried out more smoothly and in a more streamlined fashion, it is assisted by a Secretariat.

Sirte Declaration

The Sirte Declaration was the resolution adopted by the Organisation of African Unity on 9 September 1999, at the fourth Extraordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of African Heads of State and Government held at Sirte, Libya. The Declaration announces decisions to:

establish the African Union

speed up the implementation of the provisions of the Abuja Treaty, to create an African Economic Community, African Central Bank, African Monetary Union, African Court of Justice and Pan-African Parliament, with the Parliament to be established by 2000

prepare a Constitutive Act of the African Union that can be ratified by 31 December 2000 and become effective the following year

give President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa a mandate to negotiate for the cancellation of the African indebtedness

convene an African Ministerial Conference on security, stability, development and co-operationThe Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted, and at Lusaka in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted. The first session of the Assembly of the African Union was held in Durban on 9 July 2002.

The inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament was held in March 2004.


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