The ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, ECOWAS, West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the European Union, together with implementing partners has launched two major programmes representing an integrated initiative, which aims at promoting intra- and inter-regional trade, improving the business climate and strengthening the productive capacity of West Africa.
These initiatives are aimed at fostering economic growth and reducing poverty in the region.The support to Regional Economic Integration and Trade Programme is composed of four components with the first two aimed at promoting trade integration in West Africa and are being implemented by the Deutsche GesellschaftfürInternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) with an EU grant of €10m, and additional contributions from the German Government (BMZ) and the ECOWAS Commission of €1m and €0.5m respectively.
Component 3 focuses on Improving and facilitating trade in West Africa and is implemented by the World Bank Group (WBG) through an EU grant of €3.5million while the fourth component is aimed at deepening the existing customs union of WAEMU Member States and will be directly implemented by the WAEMU Commission with an EU grant of €5million.
The West Africa Competitiveness Support Programme on the other hand has two main components. The first component has the objective to improve the investment and business climate in West Africa and is implemented by the WBG with a total EU grant of €7.7m. The second component goes towards supporting the ECOWAS and WAEMU Commissions to implement the regional quality policy which will boost intra-regional and international trade. The project is being implemented by UNIDO with an EU grant of €12million.
At the launch recently, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador KadréDésiréOuedraogo thanked WAEMU, the EU, as well as other partners such GIZ, WBG and UNIDO, for their continuing support towards economic and trade integration and private sector competitiveness in West Africa.
The components of these programmes will contribute towards the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as he renewed the political commitment of the region and commended the leadership of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in consolidating the ECOWAS Common market through, inter-alia, strengthening the free movement of people and goods, as well as the attainment of quality infrastructure.
On his part, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS Michel Arrion stated that “West Africa has a major opportunity to deepen internal trade and investment ties and also to become a global economic player. Today, our message to the world is that this region is open for business. These two programmes should be seen as an integrated effort to support the process of growth, and are a testimony of ECOWAS commitment to follow this path, and the importance Europe attaches to its relationship with West Africa”.
In his remarks, Mr. Patrick Kormawa, the UNIDO Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS re-iterated that “creating access to markets remains a significant challenge in the region and the West Africa Quality Support Project will be the instrument of change”. Mr. Andreas Proksch, GIZ Director General of Africa Department, stated in his contribution that “increase in intra- and inter-regional trade will ultimately improve the economic well-being of the citizens of West Africa”.Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, Country Director of the World Bank Group, noted that “West African countries have enormous potential to strengthen competitiveness and increase trade and investment flows, which can drive growth, reduce poverty, and deliver jobs in the region”.
The launch event was attended by high profile dignitaries from ECOWAS, EU, WAEMU, BMZ, GIZ, WBG, UNIDO, representatives of the government of West African countries, regional private sector organisations, other stakeholders and ladies and gentlemen of the press.