Mano River Declaration establishing the Mano River Union between Liberia and Sierra Leone was concluded at Malema on 3 October 1973 to expand productive capacity and trade and named after the river that originates in the Guinean highlands and forms the border between the two founding countries.
In 1980, Guinea joined the MRU and in 2008 Côte d’Ivoire became the fourth member of the Organization.
The four MRU countries share many characteristics: they feature a common tribal makeup, common dialects, and common traditions. All MRU countries, except Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, have long land borders with each other. Often family ties extend across into neighbouring countries, and people traverse the borders easily and frequently. Informal trade in border regions is buoyant.
The Mano River Sub-region
The four-member countries of the MRU represent a sizeable economic space in West Africa. They have a combined population of about 40.5 million people, cover a total area of more than 750,000 square kilometres, and have an aggregate GDP of about USD 33 billion. Hence, taken together the members of the MRU are very of similar size to Tanzania (see table).
The MRU’s membership is diverse. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are least-developed countries, while Côte d’Ivoire has a substantially higher average per capita income and generally better socioeconomic indicators. It is also larger than its peers in terms of population and surface area. Indeed, the accession of Côte d’Ivoire in 2008 increased the size of the MRU markedly, doubling the grouping’s population and almost quadrupling its GDP.
The Mano River Union has a total population of 40.5 million and an area of 751,429 Km square, total GDP of $32,983 million and a GNP of $ 815 million.
All members of the MRU are also constituents of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and all, except Liberia, are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Every MRU country currently uses a different currency, even though all are members of monetary integration zones. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone belong to the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), which is supposed to introduce the ECO as its currency in the future. Côte d’Ivoire is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) that operates the Franc-CFA.