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  • Declaration (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 27-28 March 2006)
    (WORD / PDF)
  • Report of the Ministerial meeting (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 27-28 March 2006)
    (WORD / PDF)
  • Report of the meeting of Experts (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 27-28 March 2006)
  • Draft Consolidated Report
  • Report of the Consultative Meeting on the Rationalization of RECs for Eastern and Southern Africa, (Lusaka, Zambia 9-10 March 2006)
  • Report of the Consultative Meeting on the Rationalization of the RECs for Central, North and West African Regions (Accra, Ghana 27-28 October 2005)


Updated : 24/04/06
27-28 March 2006

30-31 March 2006



1. Since the establishment of the OAU in 1963, African countries, through their successive leaders, have been striving to build a major grouping not only to control internal and external shocks, but also to promote the economic and social welfare of their peoples. This collective will was manifested in the seventies and the eighties by the advent of about 200 organizations aimed at achieving the Continent's integration. Such a plethora of institutions led to the apparent disintegration of African economies for many reasons, among which are principally: the similarity of objectives, ideological divergences and the inability to honour financial commitments due to membership in several organizations. The disappointing results of the development strategies of the first two decades of independence were behind many fora for reflection focused on freeing the Continent from constraints that could lead to obstruction and inertia. The Monrovia Conference (1979) prior to the adoption of the Plan of Action and the Final Act of Lagos (1980) constitute a rather edifying example. Thereafter, it should be recalled that the Lagos Plan of Action and Final Act of Lagos generated the Abuja Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (1991), which since July 1999 entered into the second phase of its community building process, after its entry into force in 1994.

2. Six years after the launching of the African Economic Community, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, meeting in an Extraordinary Session in Sirte, Libya, decided to establish an African Union, as a strengthened continental organization that would be more effective so as to keep pace with the political, economic and social developments taking place within and outside the continent. This was, however, meant to be the logical culmination of the Community in its final stage of development. This September 1999 decision undoubtedly highlighted the strong will of the African leadership to accelerate the process of implementing the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, which would in turn speed up the Continent's progress towards economic and social integration. The Sirte Extraordinary Summit also decided to take measures for strengthening and consolidating the Regional Economic Communities as pillars for achieving the objectives of the African Economic Community and realizing the envisaged Union. Yet, was this political will which was formally expressed in Sirte sufficient to realize what Africa has been striving to achieve for nearly forty years?

3. In fact, the edification of the African Union, like the United States of America or the European Union, raises a number of questions under the prevailing economic, social and political situation on the African continent. Therefore, it would be justifiable to ask the following questions: Is it possible to improve the Continent's integration process in an environment where there is an ever increasing number of regional communities? Can the already existing RECs, taken individually, successfully get through the phases of the Abuja Treaty when some of their members belong to more than one REC? In principle a country cannot belong to more than one customs union or monetary zone, how would countries belonging to many RECs aspiring to be customs union deal with this? All these are issues which should now be urgently resolved if Africa is to accelerate and succeed in its economic integration process. It is in this context that the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa undertook a study to look at the progress made by RECs towards the achievement of deeper economic integration in Africa. The study forms the basis for the consultations, which commenced in Accra, Ghana in October 2005 for the Central, North and West African regions and in Lusaka, Zambia in March 2006 for the Eastern and Southern African regions culminating in the Ministerial consultations taking place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

4. The need to rationalize RECs is not a new development, even the policy organs of the OAU were, in their days, concerned by the issue as evidenced by the following resolutions:

  • At its 27 th Ordinary Session in 1976, the Council of Ministers by paragraph 2(a) of its Resolution CM/Res. 464(XXVI) decided that “ there shall be FIVE regions of the OAU, namely, Northern, Western, Central, Eastern and Southern”;
  • The Final Act of Lagos and the Abuja Treaty (Article 6, 2(a)) provided for the strengthening of existing economic communities and the establishment of others where none exists in order to cover the entire Continent;
  • Resolution CM/Res.1043 (XLIV) of the 44 th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers (1986), requested in paragraph 7 “the OAU Secretary General, to examine the practical and operational modalities for coordinating and harmonizing the activities and programmes of existing sub-regional economic groupings”;
  • The Heads of State and Government, in paragraph 7 of Resolution AHG/Res.161 (XXIII) adopted at the 23 rd Ordinary Session in 1987, requested the “Secretary General of the OAU, the Executive Secretary of the ECA, and the authorities of sub-regional and regional economic groupings, particularly ECOWAS, PTA, SADCC and ECCAS to take the necessary steps to ensure coordination, harmonization and rationalization of activities, projects and programmes of all the African inter-governmental cooperation and integration organizations in their respective regions in order to avert overlaps, power conflicts and wastage of efforts and resources'.

5. It is therefore imperative that the process of rationalizing RECs cannot be ignored or wished away, concrete decisions have be taken if the continent ids to accelerate its integration and bring development and prosperity to its citizens.

6. This paper presents very briefly the following elements: the present situation of AU accredited RECs in relation to other inter-governmental organizations; the motivation for rationalization; Outcomes of two consultative meetings held in Accra, Ghana and Lusaka, Zambia respectively; and the Way Forward.

27-31 MARCH 2006