ECOWAS and World Bank officials ended a two-day high-level meeting at the ECOWAS Commission, Abuja on Friday, 28th September 2012 with an agreement on wide-ranging issues including how to revitalize and deepen cooperation for accelerated regional development and integration.
The Bank is supporting ECOWAS through the Implementation Action Plan of the Regional Integration Assistance Strategy (RIAS) under a cross-cutting theme – Connecting Regional and National Planning – anchored on three pillars: development of regional infrastructure, institutional cooperation for economic integration and coordinated intervention to private regional public goods.
The meeting agreed that ECOWAS and the Bank should identify large high impact integrative projects in agriculture, food security, energy, and regional public goods for medium-term financing.
Both sides agreed to prepare a Joint Position Paper by 30th June 2013 on how to improve air transportation in the region, reduce if not eliminate barriers to intra-Community trade on food staples, and harmonize investment climate reforms.
They also agreed on the need for the complete implementation of a set of ageing projects and to accelerate start up of new projects, with an annual review of regional projects.
Addressing the meeting on Friday, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, thanked the Bank for its immense support to ECOWAS and its Member States.
He said the new management team at the Commission was intensifying efforts to encourage greater involvement of stakeholders, especially the private sector, NGOs and Civil Society organizations in Community programming and implementation as part of efforts to promote collective ownership and ensure that the benefits of regional integration reached the grass roots.
The President also said that he was working to strengthen collaboration between the ECOWAS and UEMOA with the purpose of bringing both Commissions on the same page, both in the engagement of partners and the prosecution of the regional integration agenda.
Speaking on behalf of her colleagues, Madam Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director, Nigeria, highlighted the importance of the meeting as a forum for dialogue to deepen cooperation and make a difference in the lives of citizens of West Africa.
She noted that the partnership had come a long way with notable successes and challenges, adding that such meetings were necessary to guide the programme implementation and maximize the benefits from the many opportunities that exist.
While welcoming the World Bank Regional Directors to the meeting on Thursday, on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Vice President Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, assured that with the support of partners such as the World Bank, the Commission was determined to rise above all challenges, including the perennial political crises which had tended to hamper delivery on its mandate amid very high expectorations of Member States and the community citizens.
During the working session, the Vice President presented ECOWAS’ Priority programmes and projects while Madam Elizabeth Lule, Programme Manager, Regional Integration, presented the Bank’s Implementation Action.
Source: Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) – Press Release – 1 October 2012