The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) was established on October 18, 1983 by members of UDEAC, Sao Tome and Principe and members of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries, Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda following an agreement by leaders of the UDEAC and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes States (CEPGL) to form a wider economic community of Central African States. Angola remained an observer until 1999, when it became a full member. In the same year, ECCAS was formally designated into the African Economic Community as one of the eight pillars of the African Union. ECCAS began functioning in 1985 after being inactive for several years because of financial difficulties and the conflict in the Great Lakes area. The war in the DRC was particularly divisive, as Rwanda and Angola fought on opposing sides.
Today, the member States of ECCAS are: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe. According to Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI), ECCAS objective is aimed at “promoting and strengthening a harmonious cooperation in order to realize a balanced and self-sustained economic development, particularly in the fields of industry, transport and communications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, trade, customs, monetary and financial matters, human resources, tourism, education, culture, science and technology and the movement of persons with a view to achieving collective self-reliance, raising the standards of living, maintaining economic stability and fostering peaceful relations between the member States and contributing to the development of the African continent.”