The West African Economic and Monetary Union (French Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine, abbreviated UEMOA) is an amalgamation of eight mainly francophone West African states – only in Guinea Bissau is Portuguese spoken.
The Union was founded on January 10, 1994 in Dakar and is based in Ouagadougou. The BCEAO – the West African Central Bank is the monetary authority for the common currency, the CFA franc.
With the West African Customs Union – Tarif Extérieur Commun (TEC) – a new customs union was founded on January 1st, 2015. It replaces the national legislation and the customs union of the West African economic and monetary community UEMOA.
The central bank of the UEMOA is the West African Central Bank (BCEAO) based in Dakar (Senegal). Other institutions are the Inter-Parliamentary Committee, a court of law and a joint stock exchange in Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
An integrated regional market has also existed since 2000, although this only offers different benefits for the Member States. Economic integration is still quite weak; the internal market only accounts for around 11% of total foreign trade. Around 60% of the UEMOA’s imports and exports are handled with Europe, which is why the dependency is correspondingly high.
The economy is correspondingly sensitive to external shocks, especially turbulence on the raw material markets. There are also major differences in economic structures and income levels within the Union, particularly between the wealthier countries on the coast and those in the Sahel.
The UEMOA countries are also part of the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS). Another currency union is the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).