ECOWAS Commission President presents report to Community Parliament
By, Adoba Echono
The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, has presented the Annual Report on the State of the Community to the second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria.
In his presentation of the 2023 Report on the Status of the Implementation of the Community Work Programme, Dr Touray outlined the key achievements, challenges, and opportunities facing the ECOWAS region in 2023.
The report highlighted the macro-economic situation of the region and performance of the ECOWAS Institutions with regard to their 2023 work programmes and the regional integration and development agenda globally.
Dr Touray noted that despite a difficult international environment and the slowdown in the global economies, most of the ECOWAS Member States have posted impressive economic growth.
“However, according to Dr Touray, the continued inflation, deteriorating fiscal balance and mounting public debt have eroded the welfare and standard of living of ECOWAS citizens.
“The ECOWAS Institutions have performed creditably well during the 2023 fiscal year, despite numerous challenges.
“Notable achievements include the establishment of the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC), the introduction of ECOVISA, a single visa system, and the adoption of a set of 96 ECOWAS Standards (ECOSTANDS).”
The president of the regional bloc however identified Geopolitical conflicts, Persistence of inflationary pressures, High and rising public debt, tightening of monetary policies as some of the challenges confronting the community.
In the area of opportunities at the disposal of regional body, Dr. Touray listed the “Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), increased investment in infrastructure, Development of the digital economy.”
The report recommended the strengthening of regional cooperation and integration, promote private sector development, invest in human capital, enhance resilience to shocks.
“The period under review was characterized by the continuation of geopolitical conflicts, persistent inflationary pressures, and high and rising public debt as well as tightening of monetary policies in most regions,” Dr Touray said.
Regarding the status of implementation of community work programs, President Touray said some notable results have been achieved.
On political stability, peace and security, the issues that dominated the attention of the Community during the year were the political transitions in the three Member States affected by coup d’état, namely Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, the attempted coup in Niger Republic, terrorism in the Sahel and elections.
“At the level of deepening regional economic integration, significant progress has been made, including the establishment of the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC) and the introduction of ECOVISA, a single visa system like that of Schengen,” Touray told the Parliament.
On the promotion of Common Market and private sector development in the region, the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) is strengthening competition in the region.
In particular, it has carried out cross-border investigations, market studies, and formulated recommendations to combat anti-competitive practices, while offering technical and financial support to Member States to strengthen their national competition laws.
The presentation was followed by members’ reactions to the current state of affairs in the region, with most emphasis on the latest coup attempt in Sierra Leone, which members hailed ECOWAS for deploying a mission to show solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone.
Members of the parliament called for stringent actions to bring an end to any attempt of unconstitutional change of government.
The regional parliamentarians congratulated Liberian for successful election and lauded the show of statesmanship by Liberian president, George Weah, in the just concluded presidential election for accepting defeat to opposition leader, Joseph Boakai.