The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN's five regional commissions. ECA's mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development.

ECA's dual role as a regional arm of the UN, and a part of the regional institutional landscape in Africa, positions it well to make unique contributions to member States' efforts to address their development challenges. Its strength derives from its role as the only UN agency mandated to operate at the regional and sub-regional levels to harness resources and bring them to bear on Africa's priorities.

ECA's work programme now focuses on achieving results in two related and mutually supportive areas:

ECA promotes Regional Integration in support of the African Union vision and priorities. ECA's support to the implementation of AUC's regional integration agenda focuses on undertaking research and policy analysis on regional integration issues, strengthening capacity and providing technical assistance to institutions driving the regional integration agenda, including strengthening and supporting the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and working on a range of trans-boundary initiatives and activities in sectors vital to the regional integration agenda.

Meeting Africa's special needs and emerging global challenges. ECA recognizes the importance of focusing attention on Africa's special needs, particularly within the context of achieving the MDGs. In this regard, ECA places emphasis on supporting efforts to eradicate poverty, placing African countries on the path of growth and sustainable development, reversing the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process, and accelerating the empowerment of women. It aims to provide significant technical support to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and also to promote peer learning and knowledge sharing in a range of development areas.