Posted by: africanpressorganization | 30 November 2008

Burkina-Faso / ECOWAS Council of Ministers Seeks Regional Infrastructural Development



Burkina-Faso / ECOWAS Council of Ministers Seeks Regional Infrastructural Development


OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina-Faso, November 30, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The ECOWAS Council of Ministers have endorsed the establishment of an ECOWAS regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) and an ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as part of an action plan to find lasting solutions to the energy crises in West Africa. Both institutions will take off on 1st January 2009 and will be hosted by Ghana and Cape Verde, respectively.

This was part of the recommendations of the three-day 61st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers which ended in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Saturday, 29th November 2008.

Members of the Council who are responsible for ECOWAS affairs in their Member States agreed that the regulatory authority will foster open and transparent cross-border electricity exchanges within West Africa to ensure improved efficiency of power supply and increased access to energy for Community citizens.

Similarly, they noted that the establishment of the Centre for renewable energy will ensure a sustainable development of the region’s renewable energy resources and the efficient use of energy.

The ministers’ endorsement is in fulfillment of a 2008 mid-year summit directive on the development of infrastructure, especially in the transport and energy sectors with a view to accelerating regional integration. In this regard, the ministers also validated the report and resolutions of a regional Ministers of Transport meeting which reviewed the implementation of sectoral policies and programmes relating to air, road, railway, sea and inland waterways.

Recommendations in the report include implementing the transport facilitation programme adopted in Accra, Ghana in 2003, building of joint border posts to ensure the free flow of cross-border traffic, adopting a policy to ensure rehabilitation and interconnection of railways between Member States, supporting the regional airline A-Sky as well as speeding up the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision to open up the air transport market and improve air links between Member States.

Also on the acceleration of the regional integration process, the Council received update on the status of the proposed West Africa Institute for Regional Integration (WAIRI) to be hosted by Cape Verde and scheduled for take-off in January 2010.

Another area of concern addressed by the ministers is the new security threat posed by the increasing activities on illicit drug trafficking, drug abuse and organized crime in the region. They recommended for approval by the Heads of State and Government two important documents to address the scourge in the region as adopted by an ECOWAS ministerial drug conference held in Praia, Cape Verde late October 2008.

These are the Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Drug Trafficking and Organized crime in West Africa and a corresponding Regional Action Plan. The Political Declaration outlines the commitment of the regional leaders to tackle the drug issue as it relates to providing the required priority attention to drug control and ensuring that adequate resources are made available to implement effective and sustainable measures in combating the menace.

The Regional Action Plan, which focuses on five thematic areas, provides a synopsis of the major issues militating against effective drug control in the region and how they can be overcome.

The ministers also adopted by the report of the Ministers of Women Affairs, which defines a 2009-2013 strategic plan for the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre based in Dakar, Senegal.

The strategic plan, to serve as the main tool for the promotion of gender equity and equality in the region, will deal with the following priority areas: Institutional and organizational capacity building, gender and equitable access to social services, economic empowerment as well as human rights, conflict prevention and resolution, peace and security.

Other reports and strategic action plans endorsed by the ministers include those of the Ministers of Health, Child Matters as well as Youth and Sports. The ministers, in addition, adopted the draft ECOWAS Child Policy and the ECOWAS Youth Policy, which deal with all aspects of the protection and care of the West African Child and Youth, including the peculiar challenges they face.

In a similar vein, they validated the 2009-2013 strategic plan of the West African Health organization (WAHO) which principal objectives include support for quality improvement of the health care systems in Member States and general health services improvement in the region, sustainable health financing and the institutional development of WAHO to enable the institution fulfill its mandate.

The ministers, who also considered matters relating to the negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and Europe, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of negotiations so far and stressed the need for ECOWAS negotiators to ensure an EPA that is equitable, balanced and development-oriented, in accordance with a summit directive.

They called on the ECOWAS Commission to ensure more effective information dissemination in Member States and assist them in negotiations with the World Trade Organization.

While acknowledging the persistence of poverty in the region despite efforts being made towards regional integration and the necessity to increase trade within the region, the ministers urged the Commission to initiate steps towards the formulation of a regional industrialization policy which will help add value to exports from the region.

This concern was considered crucial following the presentation of the 2008 Annual Report by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, which among others, highlighted the economic performance of the region.

The report on the region’s economy indicated a decline in the regional growth rate from 6.1 per cent in 2006 to 5.6 per cent in 2007, due to exogenous shocks related to the persistent hike in oil and food prices. It also projected lower growth rates for 2008 and 2009 at 5.1 per cent and 4.7 per cent, respectively.

The ministers expressed similar concerns over the current global financial crisis and deplored the absence of Africa at meetings related to the international crisis. They tasked the ECOWAS Commission to devise a regional strategy to minimize the effects of the crisis on West African citizens.

The Council which also considered several issues relating to Community institutions and their staff endorsed the report of the ECOWAS Judicial Council on the appointment of three new judges for the Community Court of Justice based in Abuja. They are Justices Clotilde Medegan Nougbode of Benin, Benfeito Mosso Ramos of Cape Verde and Eliam Potey of Cote d’Ivoire. They will replace the incumbent President of the Court, Justice Aminata Sanogo Malle of Mali, Justice Barthelemy Toe of Burkina Faso and Justice El Mansour Tall of Senegal whose tenure will end on 29th January 2009.

During the meeting, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Gender and Human Development, Dr. Adrienne Diop, was sworn in on Thursday, 27th November 2009, in conformity with the new Article 18 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty. The oath of office was administered by the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Aminata Sanogo Malle.




SOURCE : Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)


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