'Create West Africa of peoples' ECOWAS Commission president
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The president of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has called on West African governments to endeavor to move from a “West Africa of States to a West Africa of peoples.” Dr Chambas was speaking on the opening day of the 2nd ECOWASBusiness Forum on Thursday, 12 February 2009.
The Ecowas president said that it is only through the establishment of a well integrated union of West African countries that the region can develop. Reminding delegates of the difficulties encountered in 2008, such as the food, energy and financial crises, he reiterated the need for peace, security and good governance in the sub-region so as to promote investments and private sector growth.
He also decried the unnecessary barriers which often hinder the free flow of people and goods within the region, especially in view of the fact that these barriers contradict protocols signed by ECOWAS member countries. He called on all stakeholders - governments, the media and particularly the private sector - to come on board and help to remove the barriers.
"It is only by doing this that we can capitalise on the market of 250 million people in West Africa. That is a huge market and should be an incentive for investment in the region," he said. He told delegates that in 2009, ECOWAS will focus on the development of regional infrastructure. To this end, he revealed, a Project Development Unit has been established to concretise concepts and ideas.
Due to last year's food crisis, the ECOWAS president explained, the focus has now shifted to agriculture, which indeed was part of the focus of the forum. "Last year's food crisis served as a wake up call that we neglected agriculture. Now we have to go back to basics and develop the huge agricultural potential that we have in the sub region,' he added.
The forum was opened by the Burkinabe minister for Trade, Enterprise Promotion and Art, on behalf of the president of Burkina Faso, HE Blaise Compaore.
Author: by Kojo in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso