By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy, in Abuja
Member States have commenced the 73rd session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers meeting in Abuja, Nigeria with a collective reflection on 2014, the year under review; adding as priority issue, the need to muster a collective courage in the fight against Ebola in the region.
Opening the meeting on Tuesday, December 9, the Chairperson of the Ministers meeting, Hanna SerwaaTetteh said the meeting is intended to point towards the importance of clarity of purpose and unity in action in achieving a common goal.
Madam Tetteh said peace and development have been ECOWAS’ ban for integration but without a conducive security climate, meaningful development cannot take place.
The meeting chairperson reminded member countries that ECOWAS places priority on the promotion of peace and security to enable economic integration observing that on the political front no tangible progress is being made as the sub region continues to be affected by multiple security threats.
“We must not allow these threats to continue to be a major risk to economic growth and stability, which also hinders the much needed investment in socio-economic and infrastructural development in the sub region,” she reiterated.
She named some of the threats as transnational organized crimes, drug trafficking, terrorism, violent extremism, maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, cross border security challenges in the Sahel and the MRU as well as the attacks by Boko Haram.
Describing Ebola as a plague, Chairperson Tetteh said it is beyond a health challenge and instead it is a critical development issue which is far reaching short, long and medium term social and economic implications for the affected countries and the continent in general.
She noted that the estimation of the Economic Commission for Africa which confirmed that GDP reductions are expected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone due to combination of factors are to be in the mining operations, agricultural cycles, restriction to domestic and cross border trade, substantial reduction of air travel, postponement of already negotiated or foreseeable investments and the inability to pursue initial reforms.
“It cannot be overemphasized that socio-economic setbacks in the three most epidemic countries affect the entire ECOWAS region as well,” she added.