Generally, the purpose of the RECs is to facilitate regional economic integration between members of the individual regions and through the wider African Economic Community (AEC), which was established under the Abuja Treaty (1991).

The 1980 Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa and the Abuja Treaty proposed the creation of RECs as the basis for wider African integration, with a view to regional and eventual continental integration. 
Source: African Union,

Regional Economic Communities

Explore the Regional Economic Communities

  • CEN–SAD: Community of Sahel–Saharan States 
  • COMESA: Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa 
  • EAC: East African Community 
  • ECCAS: Economic Community of Central African States 
  • ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States 
  • IGAD: Intergovernmental Authority on Development 
  • SADC: Southern African Development Community 
  • UMA: Arab Maghreb Union 

Headline Findings

Index Findings are in line with progress being made on RECs’ regional integration agendas. The RECs score highly on areas that they have prioritized on regional integration to date. 

The different RECs’ performance on the Dimensions reinforces how progress is being made through a regional approach to integration in Africa rather than through a continent-wide approach.

Average REC scores on regional integration stand at 0.470 on a scale of 0-1 (best).

Average regional integration scores for the eight RECs stand at below half of the scale from 0-1, showing that overall integration in the regions could significantly progress. 

EAC is the top performing REC on regional integration overall.

EAC has higher than average REC scores across each Dimension of regional integration, except for Financial and macroeconomic integration.

SADC and ECOWAS have higher than average REC scores on regional integration overall.

SADC has higher than average REC scores across the Dimensions of Regional infrastructure, Free movement of people and Financial and macroeconomic integration.

ECOWAS has higher than average REC scores across the Dimensions of Free movement of people and Financial and macroeconomic integration. 

REC scores broken down by dimension


Trade Integration
Regional Infrastructure
Productive Integration
Free Movement of People
Financial & Macroeconomic Integration


  Free movement of persons Trade integration Productive integration Financial integration and macroeconomic policy convergence Regional infrastructure and interconnections
Average 0.50 0.62 0.45 0.30 0.48
UMA 0.49 0.63 0.48 0.22 0.49
COMESA 0.27 0.57 0.45 0.34 0.44
EAC 0.72 0.78 0.55 0.16 0.50
ECCAS 0.40 0.53 0.29 0.60 0.45
ECOWAS 0.80 0.44 0.27 0.61 0.43
SADC 0.53 0.51 0.35 0.40 0.50
CEN-SAD 0.48 0.35 0.25 0.52 0.25
IGAD 0.45 0.50 0.43 0.22 0.63
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