Support programme for the ECOWAS Commission

Programme description

Title: Support programme for the ECOWAS Commission
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Africa, transnational (located in Nigeria)
Lead executing agency: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission
Overall term: 2006 to 2014

Logo Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established in 1975 with the purpose of promoting regional cooperation and economic integration. Since then it has gradually widened the scope of its activities. Today it also conducts political, cultural and social activities as well as conflict resolution and prevention tasks, and it is strengthening the involvement of civil society in regional processes.

In 2007, ECOWAS changed its central institution from an Executive Secretariat into a Commission, which has made the organisation more effective and given the regional integration process a new dynamic. The member states have committed themselves to observing and promoting human rights, democracy and other principles of good governance.

Today the organisation provides an important forum for cooperation among its member states, with the Commission playing the role of a moderator for conflict-prevention, harmonisation and integration in the region. Compared to other regional economic communities, ECOWAS is by far the oldest, most experienced and most active on the African continent. However, despite the Commission’s successes and its effective transformation, various challenges still persist in terms of its institutional management capacity, and the management processes. These need to be addressed if the organisation is to serve its member states as an adequate motor for regional integration.


The ECOWAS Commission performs its tasks of designing, coordinating and monitoring the regional integration process with professional competence, thereby helping the member states to improve their implementation of its policy decisions related to economics and trade, and peace and security.


The basic approach of the Support programme for the ECOWAS Commission consists of strengthening sector-specific expertise at the ECOWAS Commission and enhancing its strategic management structures and capacities. This should facilitate the design and implementation of regional agreements on taxes, customs, tariffs and other trade-related issues, and also support reform processes aimed at enhancing peace and security, particularly through conflict prevention and mediation.

The programme consists of four components.

  • Strategic management and organisational development of the the ECOWAS Commission
    The programme is helping to strengthen the ECOWAS Commission in its core functions of strategic management, coordination and monitoring of the regional integration process.

  • Trade-related reforms of the public finance system of ECOWAS
    Reform measures are being carried out, related to indirect taxes and customs duties (the introduction of value-added tax systems and the harmonisation of consumption taxes in the ECOWAS region).

  • Advice on trade policy
    Here the programme is promoting intra-regional and international trade, in particular through the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

  • Peace and security
    In a holistic approach, the programme supports the development and implementation of strategies and concepts for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.

Results achieved so far

The programme is comprehensively anchored in the strategies and programmes of its partner, in particular the Economic Partnership Agreement Development Programme (PAPED), and the Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015. The strategic plan, as well as the adoption of the ECOWAS Vision 2020, which seeks to transform the Community from ’an ECOWAS of States’ into an ‘ECOWAS of people’, are visible examples of the transformation that has taken place.

The programme also supports the ECOWAS Commission in strengthening and expanding important continental initiatives and programmes, such as the pan-African integration process of the African Union and in particular the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This support is primarily intended to promote the integration of Africa into the global economic system, and to assist the ECOWAS Commission in its process of harmonisation with the African Peace and Security Architecture.

At the institutional level, the programme is helping the ECOWAS Commission to acquire the relevant capacities to identify the internal needs for change and to initiate necessary reforms. GIZ has facilitated the introduction of a results-based management system which now ensures that all processes, products and services contribute to the targeted results and accountability. In this way, the programme is supporting the gradual integration of strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, and management information systems into the governance structure.

At the regional level, enhanced management capacities and more coherent working procedures enable the ECOWAS Commission to contribute more significantly to good governance in the region.

Further information