ECOWAS, Burkina Faso sign headquarters agreements for youth and sports centre, zonal observatory

The headquarters agreement for the Ouagadougou-based ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre has been signed between the ECOWAS Commission and the Government of Burkina Faso at a brief ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation on Friday, 25th May 2012.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadré Désire Ouédraogo, signed for the Commission while the Burkinabe Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, Mr. Djibrill Yipene Bassolé, signed on behalf of his Government.

Both parties also signed the renewal of the headquarters agreement for the ECOWAS Zonal Observatory (Zone 2), one of the four observatories in West Africa under the regional early warning mechanism for conflict prevention and management. The others are in Banjul (The Gambia), Cotonou (Benin) and Monrovia (Liberia).

The headquarters agreement for the Zone 2 Observatory, first signed on 23rd January 2001 for a period of five years and renewable once, lapsed on 23rd January 2011. The revised agreement is timeless.

The ceremony coincided with a series of activities jointly organized by the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation to mark the Africa Day (25th May) and ECOWAS Day which comes up annually on 28th May.

Part of the activities for the celebration included a broadcast message from the President of the ECOWAS Commission, a symposium on the theme, “Promotion of Intra-African Trade: Achievements, Challenges and perspectives”, a marathon, a novelty football match and a musical concert.

Formerly known as the Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports, ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at their summit of 19th January 2005 in Accra decided to transform it into a specialized agency, known by its present name, with the mandate to initiate, develop, coordinate, monitor and implement youth and sports development programmes within the region.

Through this permanent institutional framework, youth and sporting activities can be developed and promoted in order to ensure youth commitment to the ECOWAS integration process, especially through the Centre’s seven-point objectives.

They are to encourage youth initiative, entrepreneurship and creativity in order to enable them play an active role in the Community, address current and emerging youth problems, promote youth social-professional and economic integration as well as promote, initiate and encourage the organization of sporting activities within the region.

Others include looking for specific solutions to gender discriminations in the Community, establishing partnerships and cooperation with similar organizations in Member States and strengthening cooperation in the area of youth and sports through the exchange of best practices, training and the development of innovative actions within the Community.

The President said that the signing was the culmination of a long process of including youth development and growth in ECOWAS priority list, as well as emphasizing that the institution’s Vision 2020 cannot be concluded without the youth who would inherit the process.

He said the official recognition that has been given by the Burkinabe Government to the Centre would enable it focus more squarely on its mandate of developing the youth and building their capacity for self-employment and empowerment.

While calling on the heads of the two agencies to “scrupulously” respect the provisions of the headquarters agreements, President Ouédraogo assured that ECOWAS would take all necessary measures to ensure that the agencies are fully operational and deliver on their mandates.

In his speech, Minister Bassolé assured that the Government of Burkina Faso would ensure that the two specialized institutions functioned maximally and efficiently, noting that they play an essentially role in the integration process in West Africa.

In addition, he said the Burkinabe government places very high premium on the youth so as to enable them fully play their role in the economic and political governance of the region.

Minister Bassolé called for solidarity with the people of Guinea Bissau, Mali and other trouble spots in the region, saying that the political and security challenges facing ECOWAS “call on our sense of responsibility, cohesion as well as an active and compulsory engagement for the re-establishment and consolidation of peace, security, democracy, stability and progress”.

He lauded President Ouédraogo for his efforts in the “management of difficult and delicate crises in Guinea Bissau and Mali, adding: “With the agreement and involvement of all, we will make ECOWAS a true Community of peace, security and development”.

Source: Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) – Press Release – 30 May 2012