The ECOWAS Commission has asked Community stakeholders to play an active role in the development and the implementation of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 document and its frameworks for the West African Region. This call came in a two-day consultation workshop, organized by ECOWAS 29-30 March 2021, in Abuja. A similar consultation workshop was held with women and youth organisations across West Africa, last week.
This workshop aimed to consult specifically with the decentralized stakeholders from Member states because, in most West African States, governance is decentralized to the subnational level for increased participation of the citizens in decision making and promote the wider spread of socio-economic development at the sub-national level. For development and governance to be fully responsive to the needs of the people and all-inclusive, people and institutions must be empowered at every level of society – national and sub-national (province, district, city, town and village).
Recalling with the adoption of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 in 2007 by the Authority of Heads of State and Government as a strategic framework for the transformation of ECOWAS into a borderless, peaceful and prosperous region from an “ECOWAS of the States to ECOWAS of the People”, the ECOWAS Commission was mandated to establish a comprehensive and all-inclusive roadmap for a new strategy, post vision 2020, that will address the various challenges and reflect the community’s aspirations and projections for the next 30 years. This new vision will build on the successes of Vision 2020 and chart a new development path in a detailed document that will garner the goals, aspirations, and developmental priorities of the region over the next thirty years.
Vice President Madam Finda Koroma, in her opening remarks, reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS to leave no one behind in the roadmap to vision 2020 and called for active involvement in the Vision’s implementation process. Because the decentralized institutions and Local authorities enjoy a unique and privileged position of proximity with the population as elected officials, your mandates are service delivery to the people, therefore making you the primary stakeholders in the whole process of consultations. Your closeness to the people which gives you the unique opportunity to be able to talk to them directly and to better understand their needs makes you privileged interlocutors in the design and implementation of any policies and programmes for the people, she said.
At the end of this workshop, we would have gathered and documented your strong recommendations and critical solutions which will be incorporated into the design of programmes and policies that will strengthen decentralisation in your various states, as part of the Vision 2050 development process. We are not oblivious to the fact that despite being at the supranational level, the ultimate beneficiaries of our programmes are the people at the grass-roots level. I, therefore, call on all of you here present to help us better understand the peculiar needs of the decentralised administrations and what programmes could be developed to empower them so that together we are able to serve our communities as expected, she said.
She went further to outline some of the important progress achieved in terms of regional integration like the deployment of ECOWAS Common Passport, the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card to aid free movement and freedom of establishment of citizens, foster intra-regional trade, partnership, and economic collaboration. The implementation of Conflict Prevention Framework, eradication of terrorism and violent extremism, the war against drug and human trafficking, consolidation of Customs Union with the implementation of the Common External Tariff (CET), construction of Joint-Border Posts at major border crossing points, all have contributed to growth in both formal and informal trade in our region; In the health sector, WAHO is coordinating the regional response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including capacity building and provision of essential medical supplies and equipment to the Member States.
Madam Koroma recalled that under her direct supervision, the ECOWAS Fund for Regional Stabilisation and Sustainable Development for Fragile Regions will soon be launched. This initiative seeks to improve the living conditions of women and youth, create business opportunities for them, strengthen social cohesion and promote good governance. The pilot programme was launched in The Gambia with €17m and hopefully, it may be extended to Guinea-Bissau and Mali as part of the regional pilot programme (2021-2023) before it is rolled out to other member states.
She concluded appreciating the quick response of participants to the invitation despite all the hassle of travelling in this Covid-19 period. This is a real show of your commitment to the development of our region, which we appreciate dearly she ended.
Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Zubairu Dada, hailed ECOWAS for this initiative which is in line with following the ECOWAS Council of Minister’s direction. He reminded participants on the need to see this workshop as an essential tool to appraise the achievements of ECOWAS in the promotion of peace and prosperity across West Africa and use this to not only discuss and identify development challenges of the region but to also explore opportunities, policies and programmes that will go a long way in addressing these issues and contribute to the vision 2050.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, represented by Mr. Adeosun .T. David Director, Macroeconomic Analysis in his remarks stated that this couldn’t have come at a better time when Nigeria is developing their own vision 2050 and 2070.
Mr. Joseph Uyi, Head ECOWAS National Office, Nigeria, stressed the importance of liaising with leaders and sub-leaders at every level in order to ensure that identifying developmental needs of the sub-region are done effectively and all-encompassing.
Mr. Ludwig Kirchner, GIZ ECOWAS Cluster Coordinator, in his remarks, said since ECOWAS is a ”People-centred” organization, the peculiarities of all stakeholders must be taken into consideration. ECOWAS Vision 2050 offers the opportunity to be part of the larger picture. To be factored in right from the start of this continuous dialogue which should be translated into Pillars, Community Strategic Framework, Strategic Plans, Policies, Laws and implemented at national and subnational levels. If all stakeholders are informed of the development of Vision 2050, we will better hold each other accountable for the future.
In these two days, it is important that you assist ECOWAS in re-aligning the policy trajectory to your realities. Ensure a better integration into the Vision pillars that will support the region for the next thirty (30) years. ECOWAS has invested in the people, which will ensure that the region can flourish. This workshop is a platform for you to voice your aspirations, he addressed the participants.
The participants at the workshop were drawn from city mayors, Governors from each member state, representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, GIZ, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).