The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was formed to promote economic and development growth in West Africa. Major exports from the region include energy products, minerals and agricultural products. Commercial energy resources in ECOWAS, primarily petroleum and natural gas, are concentrated in coastal and offshore regions. Nigeria is West Africas only significant oil producer. In recent months, Nigeria has experienced increased pipeline vandalism. ExxonMobil produces around 750,000 bbl/d of oil in Nigeria. Nigeria shares a Joint Development Zone (JDZ) with neighboring SÃo TomÉ and PrÍncipe (STP), which contains 23 exploration blocks. In August 2005, Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) brought their Baobab oil field onstream, with initial production averaging 48,000 bbl/d. In 2005, Saltpond Offshore Producing Ltd (SOPL), which is owned by the U.S.-registered Lushann-Eternit (60 percent) and the state-owned Ghanaian National Petroleum Company (GNPC) (40 percent), signed a $5 million redevelopment project that will restart six wells on the Saltpond oil and natural gas field. In 2006, Hunt Oil plans to conduct seismic research on the Sangomar-Rufisque license offshore Senegal. In March 2002, U.K.-independent Premier Oil announced the results of its first exploratory well on the Sinapa prospect (Block 2) offshore Guinea-Bissau. In Benin, U.S.-based independent Kerr-McGee has exploration plans for Block 4, which include 3D seismic research and an anticipated drilling in late 2006. Although the Mano River States (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) currently produce no hydrocarbons, sporadic exploration activity is taking place. Nigeria has the majority of oil refineries in the ECOWAS region. West Africa contains approximately one-third of all proven natural gas reserves in Africa. Thermal electricity constitutes the majority of electricity generated in the ECOWAS region.
Regional leaders created the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on May 28, 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. ECOWAS is comprised of 15 countries, which include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote dIvoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The leaders established ECOWAS to promote regional integration and economic growth in West Africa, as well as to create a monetary union in the region. However, ECOWAS has encountered problems in the process of regional integration including: political instability and lack of good governance that has plagued many member countries, the insufficient diversification of national economies, the absence of reliable infrastructure, and the multiplicity of organizations for regional integration with the same objectives.The Authority of Heads of State and Government is the governing body of ECOWAS. The Authority determines the general direction and development of the Community, as well as the realization of the Communitys objectives. The Authority elects an annual Chairman, with the 2006 Chairman being Nigers President, Mamadou Tandja. Under the Authority is the Council of Ministers, which is responsible for the proper functioning of the Community. In April 2002, the Council approved a procedure for the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (TLS). The TLS entitles the manufacturers of approved products to customs duty exemption within ECOWAS member states. The procedure uses National Approval Committees, set up by member states, to handle the approval of products to be granted exemption under TLS. The 2002 decision by the Council abrogates a previous decision and grants the Council a monopoly for approving applications for such exemptions.In 1990, ECOWAS established the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), a multilateral military peacekeeping force to intervene in the civil war of Liberia. Since 1990, ECOMOG has been deployed in civil conflicts in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and CÔte dIvoire. The CÔte dIvoire disarmament and peace mission included ECOMOG troops from Benin, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. Overall, Nigeria has contributed the largest amount of troops, materials and financial support to ECOMOG missions. ECOWAS is seeking international support to enable it to train and equip the 15 battalions of troops pledged by member states. The training of the composite units facilitates their effectiveness in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and other missions for which they could be deployed.
In 2005, the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for ECOWAS was estimated at $139 billion. Economies within the Community are at varying stages of development. Nigerias economy is larger than the combined GDP of all other ECOWAS countries, with a GDP of $78 billion. In 2005, the Communitys economies grew at a combined weighted average rate of 5.0 percent. However, substantial external debt within individual states remains one of ECOWAS greatest challenges. In addition, internal strife has adversely affected economic performance in several states. Total regional exports, including intra-regional exports, were $68.4 billion in 2005 and ECOWAS had a $17.5 billion trade surplus. The regions major export commodities were energy products (crude oil and refined petroleum products), minerals (gold, diamonds, and bauxite) and agricultural products (cocoa, coffee, groundnuts, and cotton). The primary U.S. import from the region was Nigerian crude oil. As of January 1, 2006, President Bush approved the designation of 37 sub-Saharan African countries as eligible for tariff preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). As required by the legislation, this annual determination signifies which countries are making continued progress toward a market-based economy, the rule of law, free trade, economic policies that will reduce poverty, and protection of workers rights. CÔte dIvoire, Liberia, and Togo were the only countries in the region not approved for the AGOA. In 1994, ECOWAS Francophone members Benin, Burkina Faso, CÔte dIvoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, with Lusophone Guinea Bissau, created the West African Monetary Union (UEMOA) in Senegal. UEMOA is a regional economic and monetary union which shares a common currency (the CFA Franc). Five ECOWAS Anglophone-members, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, have proposed setting up a second West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) in December 2009 and launching a new common currency, the Eco. All five states signed the 2000 Accra Declaration for the creation of the second monetary zone, agreeing to reform their economies to meet specific targets prior to the introduction of the Eco. It is planned that the Eco would circulate simultaneously with the CFA Franc, with the ultimate goal of creating a single monetary zone for the entire Community. Both Liberia and Cape Verde have shown interest in becoming members of the WAMZ.
Commercial energy resources in ECOWAS, primarily petroleum and natural gas, are concentrated in coastal and offshore regions. Electricity in West Africa is generated through thermal (57.8 percent of installed capacity) or hydroelectric (42.2 percent) resources. Natural gas could take a more significant role in the Communitys energy sector as fields in Nigeria and CÔte dIvoire are developed. Due to a relatively small urban population in ECOWAS (approximately 33.9 percent) and lack of infrastructure, access to commercial energy sources is limited. In 2005, Nigeria had petroleum exports of 2.3 million barrels per day (bbl/d), while CÔte dIvoire, exported 39,000 bbl/d of petroleum. All other ECOWAS countries are net energy importers. In 2003, ECOWAS consumed 1.43 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of commercial energy (0.4 percent of total world consumption) and produced 5.82 quadrillion Btu (1.4 percent of total world production). Also in 2003, the region generated 33.2 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (0.5 percent of the world total). Nigeria accounted for 66.7 percent (0.99 quadrillion Btu) of energy consumption in ECOWAS, 96.3 percent (5.6 quadrillion Btu) of energy production, and 76.9 percent (33.16 million metric tons) of the Communitys carbon emissions. ECOWAS has plans to create a $50 billion fund that will be used to boost energy services for the West African population and to curb energy shortfalls that are seen as a hindrance to economic development and regional integration. ECOWAS has set December 2007 as the target for the creation of the fund. By 2015, with the help of additional energy, ECOWAS would like to see a 50 percent reduction in poverty within the Community.
Nigeria, West Africas only significant oil producer, had oil production averaging 2.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2005. According to the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Nigerias estimated proven crude reserves are 35.9 billion barrels, and this constitutes 96 percent of the Communitys estimated proven crude reserves. Smaller reserve deposits are located in the Gulf of Guinea (offshore Benin, CÔte dIvoire and Ghana). In 2005, petroleum consumption in West Africa averaged 487,000 bbl/d, with Nigeria being the Communitys largest oil consumer (63 percent of total consumption).