Kandifo Institute wishes to congratulate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his re-election as Chairman of Authority of Heads of State and Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Just like the first person to scale Mount Everest, your achievement is a testament of ambition and perseverance. Your drive and passion are infectious.
Congratulations once again, your Excellency on your success. We know you will be able to climb any challenge that comes your way just as you have along your journey so far.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional political and economic union that is made of fifteen West African Countries. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo are the West African Countries that make up the ECOWAS.
The mandate of this union is to promote economic integration in all fields of activity of the countries involved. As a trading Union, ECOWAS is also meant to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. The ECOWAS was formed on May 28, 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. Ever since the ECOWAS was formed, there have been some achievements which have benefited the member states such as;
- They have been able to establish the ECOWAS Monetary Institute that will help the union to undertake technical preparations for the West African Monetary Zone.
- The ECOWAS has come to a resolve, on review of the Sahel Strategy document and its action plant to promote and boost security in the regions.
- They have also launched the Ecolink project, whose aim is to improve and transform key operations within the ECOWAS community.
- They have also established a regional center for disease control.
- The ECOWAS has also strengthened and maintained actions that have been undertaken to consolidate peace and security in the region, just to mention a few.
The President of the Republic of Ghana was first appointed Chair ECOWAS in September 2020 by the 57thOrdinary Session of the Authority. He was the successor of the President of Niger, President Mahamadou Issoufou who steered the activity of the Authority for a year.
He later paid a visit to the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja on September 21, 2020, after he was appointed as the Chairman of the Authority and Head of States and Government of ECOWAS. He was briefed by H.E Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission who updated him, on the activities of the ECOWAS community and other institutions.
On February 3, 2021, President Nana Akufo-Addo was given the nod to serve another term as the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States. As Chairman, he would oversee the affairs of the ECOWAS community for a period of one year. Serving another term in Office as the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the ECOWAS would be a great opportunity for him to recommence the impactful scheme by focusing more on the following:
- Policies (health & infrastructure):
- Coronavirus: as the Chairman, he should ensure that the other heads of states of the member state countries make their citizens strictly adhere to the COVID-19 protocols in order to fight and curb the spread of the virus. Also, he should ensure that the COVID-19 tests are further slashed to a minimal amount, if not free for all travellers in the ECOWAS countries.
Initially, cost for COVID-19 test was US$150 but on the 30th of January, 2021, the ECOWAS slashed rate capping it at US$50. We believe it can be slashed further for all to afford. In Ghana for instance, we are happy the President has directed all public laboratories to undertake free testing for all with the exception of travellers. Finally, we are hopeful that the vaccines for Coronavirus would be very affordable to all member states. This is to protect the health of entire populations.
- There is dire need of health facilities and health professionals, and so it is keen for member states to see to it that health centres with very laboratories are set up at vantage areas within those countries to serve a good capacity of citizens. COVID-19 came with a lot of inconveniences and so it is important to have enough health facilities to attend to affected populations in terms of testing, conducting research, administering services, implementing educational programs and recommending policies.
- Peace & security
As part of the aims of the ECOWAS to ensure peace and security in the ECOWAS community. It is necessary to address the root cause and structural factors of conflicts by identifying safety and resilience conditions that reduce deficits in state building, peace building and risks to violence and conflicts.
We are confident that his Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo would task the heads of the 15 member states to ensure that there is no repetition of what happened in Nigeria (END SARS) that led to the death of many Nigerians. There should be critical investigations into situations that spread violence across the member state countries and the perpetrators of such acts should be brought to book. This is the only way to curb such vices.
Terrorism risks are high in Benin as attacks have increased as jihadists keep attacking the army in Benin. In January 2021, more than two million people have been forced to flee their homes within their own countries’ boarders owing to the violence that is engulfing Africa’s Sahel Region. One hundred people have been killed in January 2021 in attacks on two villages in Niger and this has been one of the deadliest days in recent memory for a country that has been ravaged by Islamist violence. There is also latest attack in Mali that has led to the death of about 9 soldiers.
Militant Islamists are believed to be the perpetrators of this attack. All these violence that are going on in some countries that are part of the ECOWAS, slows down development and even pose a threat to the economy. As the Chair of ECOWAS, you have to ensure peace and stability in all the 15-member states of ECOWAS. People will continue to flee from their countries if they don’t feel safe there. This will slow down the ECOWAS attainment of their aims and goals.
To conclude, with the rich natural resource endowment of most West African countries, through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there would be a significant level of independence to promote development in the West Africa Sub-region. Taking into consideration the recent uprise of authoritarianism in some Sub-Sahara African Countries, as the Chair of the ECOWAS, ensure that West African leadership should be prioritized during your tenure of Office.
Agriculture should also be given keen attention considering how agrarian the West African Economies are. Due to climate change conditions and COVID-19, most West African countries are struggling with their economies because most are practicing the traditional agricultural system. You should ensure that these traditional systems are transformed to be more mechanical. This we believe would improve and boost the economy and also contribute to national development.
>>>The writer is Executive Director, Kandifo Institute. He can be reached on [email protected]