The Economic Community of West African States is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded on May 28, 1975 when 15 West African countries signed the Treaty of Lagos. Its mission is to promote economic integration.
It was founded to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for the member states by means of economic and monetary union creating a single large trading bloc. The very slow progress towards this aim meant that the treaty was revised towards a looser collaboration.
The ECOWAS Secretariat and the Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development are its two main institutions to implement policies.
Executive Secretary, 1997 to date (2001): Lansana Kouyate