The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has made significant progress towards regional economic integration.
The measures include the acceleration of economic reforms and the stabilisation of a macroeconomic environment towards the achievement of the region’s single currency agenda this year.
The regional body is also working towards the adoption of a single biometric identity card and passport to enhance market integration.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said this when she addressed the media on ECOWAS Day in Accra last Thursday.
She said the regional body continued to contribute to the harmonisation of macroeconomic policies in the region, the implementation of the Common External Tariﬀ (CET), multilateral surveillance, trade liberalisation, infrastructure, agriculture and environmental development, as well as the implementation of strategic programmes and measures to combat malaria, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, among other initiatives.
Ms Botchwey added that the regional body was also developing an integrated human capacity strategy to deﬁne how it would support member states to realise their human capacity development objectives.
“The Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs and Regional Integration is working with ECOWAS and selected ministries, departments and agencies, as well as civil society organisations and the private sector to determine the design and form of ECOWAS support to Ghana’s human capacity development,” the minister added.
Ms Botchwey, however, said member states were expected to suﬀer the negative impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
She said the region could experience a reduction in ﬁnancial resources of between US$36.42 billion and US$63.19 billion.
That, the minister said, would result in an economic slowdown in member states with serious consequences, especially, for the most vulnerable.
In spite of the gloomy global outlook of such an unprecedented health crisis, she said the regional community remained undaunted in its resolve to work towards achieving the aspirations of its people.
Ms Botchwey said the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government demonstrated commitment and determination at its virtual Extraordinary Summit on April 23, 2020, to intensify and coordinate the actions of member states to ﬁght the pandemic.
Apart from collaborating with specialised services in member states to deploy personnel and epidemiological surveillance and data collection tools, she said the West
African Health Organisation (WAHO) was also strengthening the capacity of reference laboratories and technical personnel.
The minister added that WAHO was helping member states with medical supplies to combat COVID-19.
As ECOWAS considered a revision of its 2020 vision, she said the body had an opportunity to reﬂect on the vision of its pioneers, evaluate its progress as a regional body, and reaﬃrm its commitment to the objectives of the community.
Ms Botchwey observed that terrorism was one of the major security challenges confronting the region.
Ghana, she said, had been working with Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Togo under an Accra initiative to combat terrorism in the region while
ECOWAS had also adopted a number of initiatives to promote regional security.
The minister further said Ghana had played a very important role over the decades in driving the ECOWAS agenda both at home and abroad. “Ghana has contributed tremendously to peace and security in the region and in deepening regional integration. She is also the community’s second largest ﬁnancial contributor, hence Ghana must continue to have a position of inﬂuence in the aﬀairs of the region and to preserve its strategic interests,” she added.
Ms Botchwey said the celebration of the 45th anniversary of ECOWAS under the prevailing unprecedented circumstances should urge member states to remain steadfast in their commitment and dedication to the pursuit of regional integration to achieve their development goals.
She said the overarching principle in the vision of ECOWAS was good governance based on democratic principles and the rule of law.
Ms Botchwey further indicated that after 45 years of its existence, ECOWAS had enhanced its eﬃciency in dealing with conﬂicts, crisis prevention and resolution.
Source: Daily Graphic
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