By Benjamin Umuteme
ECOWAS Commission is seeking the cooperation of her development partners to address the infrastructural deficits confronting the region.
President of the Commission, Marcel de Souza, who said this at the 12th annual ECOWAS-Development Partners Coordination meeting in Abuja, also added that the Community expected the cooperation with Development Partners to enhance the regional integration process “in a dynamic and constructive spirit”.
The meeting is meant, among others, to strengthen political dialogue around the ECOWAS Vision 2020 and encourage adherence to the strategic choices in line with regional priorities.
Identifying the building of requisite infrastructure as key in the creation of a healthy environment for investment and trade in the region, Mr. de Souza emphasised the need to support the ongoing efforts to rehabilitate roads, rail and air links that would aid free movement of goods, persons and capital in the area with a markets of more than 340 million inhabitants.
President de Sousa asserted presently the Commission is focused on a number of major areas of development, mostlly related to regional infrastructure, consolidation of peace and security, deepening of integration through the construction of the economic and monetary union as well as the promotion and development of the private sector.
Making a presentation on the status of regional integration process in West Africa and medium-term prospects, the President specifically harped on the imperative of peace and security for regional economic stability and progress.
He identified the gaps between integration instruments and their implementation, non-tariff barriers as well as the need to align demographic and economic growth in order to eradicate poverty from the region.
Remarking on the significance of the meeting, the head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen said the EU has an abiding commitment to addressing regional challenges collectively, stating that over recent years, the EU increased its support to ECOWAS through its Development Fund by allocating more than €1 billion for the 2014-2020 period.