Since its creation on 28 May 1975, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been promoting economic cooperation and regional integration as a tool for an accelerated development of the West African economy. Regional integration remains the most viable and appropriate tool for achieving and accelerating sustainable development of the West African countries. Consequently, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government reaffirmed its commitment to improve the West Africa integration process while enhancing its effectiveness. To achieve this objective, the Authority adopted a resolution in June 2007 to introduce the transformational ECOWAS Vision 2020. The ECOWAS Vision 2020 is aimed at setting a clear direction and goal to significantly raise the standard of living of the people through conscious and inclusive programmes that will guarantee a bright future for West Africa and -shape the destiny of the region for many years to come. In this connection, the President of the ECOWAS Commission was directed to mobilize the citizens of the region to the vision, and help to achieve it by 2020. It is gratifying that the visioning process has achieved remarkable progress, culminating in the formulation and preparation of this Vision Document. This accomplishment represents a significant step, given the commendable effort to involve all relevant stakeholders in the visioning process. This involvement within and outside government machinery, augurs well for the achievement of our common objective of a much better West Africa. The Idea is to make the ECOWAS Vision 2020 a people’s document and make both the region’s integration and development process people-centered and people-driven. This paradigm shift in attitudes and institutional orientation is vital if the region is to create an environment in which the business community and the general public will have a shared vision and work together to realize the development aspirations of the people and achieve equitable and broad-based growth, sustainable development and poverty eradication. The Vision Document is also emphatic and unequivocal about the other changes to be made in the way the political and socio-economic life of the region is viewed and managed. It constitute the necessary and vital new orientations that must be embraced by West African to successfully bring an end to poverty and deprivation.
As clearly enunciated in the document, the Vision 2020 is feasible and realizable. For it to happen, all stakeholders in the West African enterprise need to make required changes in their policy formulation and implementation, as well as their institutional capacity.
Vision 2020 has the lofty goal of transforming ECOWAS from a body of states to a community of people.