Cote d’Ivoire’s Foreign Minister, Honourable Daniel Kablan Duncan, opened the 68th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Abidjan on Monday, 11th June 2012 by calling on the organization to embrace the necessary transformation and modernization of management procedures to raise its competiveness in a globalizing world.
After 37 years in existence, the Minister, who is the current chair of the Council, said the regional organization has recorded “notable progress, but significant weaknesses still exist in the manner of operations which continue to limit our level of achievements.”
He therefore charged the ministers to assume their responsibilities by guiding Community institutions to deliver on commitments to citizens and meeting the expectations and the objectives of the organization.
The Council, the minister said, should conclude action on the allocation of the remaining statutory positions within Community institutions and also consider recommendations of the 11th Session of the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) on 4th and 5th June in Abuja, as part of continuing efforts to strengthen the administrative and financial management procedures of ECOWAS institutions.
Among the key issues is the need to lift the freeze on recruitment at the ECOWAS Commission, which Minister Duncan urged Council to consider along with the financial implications.
He also urged Council to take measures to effect the decision of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government last October on the possibility of creating additional Commissioner-positions for greater effectiveness and more dynamism in the functioning of the Commission.
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadré Désire Ouédraogo noted that the Council session was taking place at a time of political crises in two ECOWAS member States of Mali and Guinea-Bissau.
As part of principled efforts to consolidate peace and security in the region, he said that five extra-ordinary summits of Heads of State and two sessions of the Mediation and Security Council had been held towards resolving these crises.
The president also noted that lack of human resources continued to limit the execution of programmes by the Commission and other Community institutions, adding that this should be addressed for the benefit of Community citizens.
While noting that the Council session was also taking place at a time of economic and financial difficulty within the Euro zone, he said the region recorded economic growth of 6.4% in 2011 and 6.3% in 2012, which has raised the growth prospects for the African continent to 5.1%.
However, the president underscored the need for concerted solutions to fast-track the integration and prosperity of West Africa.
In his mid-year report to the Council, the Commission’s chief outlined the progress, challenges and the way forward on the regional integration project.
The highlight of the opening ceremony of the two-day meeting of ministers in charge of ECOWAS affairs in Member States was the swearing in of the Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh and six Commissioners who assumed duties last February.
The oath of office was administered on them by the President of the Community Court Justice, Awa Nana Daboya, after President Ouédraogo had presented the members of his new management team that replaced the Commission’s pioneer Commissioners who bowed out last December.
Source: Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) – Press Release – 14 June 2012