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Survey on Regional Economic Communities


The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have been identified by the African Union as the key vectors for the successful regional integration in Africa. It is therefore critical that the RECs develop the necessary capacity to support the regional integration agenda of the continent. It is to assess progress towards the development of this capacity that, the African Development Bank Group, as part of its support to capacity development in Africa and to ACBF as the premier capacity development institution of the continent, agreed to support an update and a further improvement of the exercise conducted by ACBF in 2006. The exercise is co-financed by the ACBF and the African Development Bank Group under the Nigeria Trust Fund.

ACBF is the lead in the exercise of the survey. In 2005 – 2006, the ACBF led a similar exercise. The Bank Group has also been supporting the Foundation over the past two decades. This support to the Foundation has enabled the capacity development for regional member countries (RMCs) and regional economic communities (RECs) in policy making and implementation, project management, and dialogue at global conventions such as the World Trade Organization, thereby facilitating African voices in global trade talks.

Aim and Objectives of the Survey

The aim of second Capacity Survey of the Regional Economic Communities in Africa is to reappraise the capacity needs of the eight African Union (AU)  approved RECs in line with their new strategic thrusts, current and prospective development imperatives and the need to provide strategic guidance to the key development partners to the RECs in relation to their strategic programming.

Objectives of the survey are to:

  • Review the regional integration agendas of the eight RECs, distilling their key strategic thrusts and thematic pillars
  • Take stock of the progress made in strengthening the human and institutional capacity of RECs since the publication on the 2006 survey
  • Undertake a capacity needs assessment of the eight RECs while taking advantage of the opportunity to survey any on-going capacity building programs and the partnerships thereto;
  • Develop a comprehensive capacity building strategy for each of the eight the RECs, complete with an estimated budget and financing strategy; and
  • Prepare the Second Edition of the RECs Capacity Survey Report, in line with the findings.

Scope of the Survey

The study focuses on the following RECs: the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The priority areas of the capacity needs assessment include the following:

  • Regional integration and trade;
  • Policies for agricultural productivity and food security;
  • Environmental management and climate change;
  • Value-addition to natural resources and extractive industries, and
  • Economic transformation for youth employment.

Field missions to RECs
In addition to the literature review, the ACBF Team has undertaken field missions to the headquarters of six RECs as part of information gathering for their capacity needs assessment, and conducted analytical work. The RECs visited are the following:

  • Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) 8 - 12 July 2013
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 15 - 18 July 2013
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) 23 – 27 September 2013
  • Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) 27 October – 4 November 2013
  • East African Community (EAC) 17 – 23 November 2013
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC) 9 – 13 December 2013


ACBF ensured all key institutions working on regional integration are involved in the survey. In 2013, ACBF held an Inception Workshop in Addis Ababa and also held meetings to bring in more partners. Organisations and institutions that have been involved in the survey so far have included:

  • Development Partners
    • African Development Bank (AfDB)
    • The NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency
    • The World Bank
    • Afrexim Bank
    • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
    • The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    • United Nations Commission for Africa (UNECA)
    • United Nations development Programme (UNDP)
    • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
    • The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)
  • Think Tanks
    • Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA, Botswana)
    • Centre d’Analyse des Politiques Economique et Sociales (CAPES, Burkina Faso)
    • Centre Mauritanien d’Analyse de Politiques (CMAP, Mauritania)
    • Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale (CRES, Senegal)
    • Center for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA, Ghana)
    • Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF, Tanzania)
    • Horn Economic and Social Policy Institute (HESPI, Ethiopia)
    • Kenya Institute of Public Policy Analysis (KIPPRA, Kenya)


The conduct of the survey was fully participatory, to foster ownership of the entire process by all participating stakeholders.  The survey was conducted through a combination of literature surveys and analytical work, technical meetings with main partners, field missions, and policy dialogue. Field missions were undertaken to the headquarters of the surveyed RECs and their supporting institutions, as part of information gathering for the capacity needs assessment of the various RECs.
Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
Erastus Mwencha

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board
Lamin Momodou

The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa
Goodall Gondwe

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, former Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi
Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure.

Hon Ken Ofori Atta, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance - Ghana