The African Economic Community, commonly referred to as AEC, was formed in June 1991, in Abuja, Nigeria, when Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity signed the treaty at the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly. Thus, beginning with May 1994, the Organization of African Unity has been operating according the OAU Charter and the AEC Treaty, while the organization is currently referred to as the OAU/AEC.
The main objective of the African Economic Community is to promote African economic integration for increasing self-sufficiency and to create a framework for mobilization of human resources and material. The further aims of AEC are to establish of peaceful relations between its member states; maintain economic stability and raise standards of living of Africa's people.
In May 1994, the AEC Treaty, known as the Abuja Treaty, came into effect, providing for the AEC to be set up through a complicated process. This would be achieved by harmonization, coordination and integration of activities of both future and existing regional economic communities within Africa.
Among the existing regional economic communities are the Arab Maghreb Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa, Economic Community of West African States and Southern African Development Community. Other active regional economic communities include the West African Economic and Monetary Union, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community and Southern African Customs Union.
The Abuja Treaty's implementation will be done in six stages over 34 years and will include strengthening existing regional economic communities and establishing new ones if needed; the stabilization of tariff and strengthening sector integration in the field of communication, transport, finance, agriculture and trade; establishment of the free trade area at the level of each regional economic community; formation of the African Common Market and adoption of common policies; and establishment of African Central Bank and single African currency.
The main policy making body of the African Economic Community is the Economic and Social Council, whose functions are central to implementation of the AEC objectives. As such the Council is responsible for preparation of programs, policies and strategies for co-operation in the socioeconomic field, and harmonization, coordination and evaluation of issues and activities in this field.
The Specialized Technical Committees of the African Economic Community include Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs, Committee on Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters, Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters, Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, Committee on Transport, Communications and Tourism and Committee on Education, Culture and Human Resources.
Among other cooperating organizations and departments related to AEC are Department of Communications, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Department of Transport and Department of Trade and Industry.