The President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Jean-Claude Kassi Brou has reaffirmed the determination of the Commission to work more with the African Union (AU) while deepening cooperation in the implementation of priority projects and programmes. The renewed commitment was given on the 26th of October 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria when the Chairperson of the AU Commission Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat led a delegation from the continental body on a courtesy visit to the ECOWAS Commission.
President Brou who was represented by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Mamadou Traoré stated that the good relations between both bodies is reflected by the joint recognition of representations at their headquarters as well as the dynamic technical cooperation between the different Departments of their organizations. Noting that the visit is coming within the framework of the implementation of the reforms initiated at the level of the continental organization, he highlighted the regional priorities set by the new ECOWAS management to include a focus on institutional reform, consolidation of peace and security, free movement of persons and goods, infrastructure, improving the investment climate, building industrial capacity and the development of human capacity.
Acknowledging the efforts of the AU in the management of peace and security on the continent and in particular for its support to Mali, Gambia and some other countries Mamadou Traoré stressed that the ECOWAS Commission has been following with keen interest, the implementation of the recommendations of the Kagamé intervention plan and the management of major issues such as the free trade area akin to other sectors such as political affairs, peace, security and economic integration. Additionally, are the responses to regional security challenges, particularly in the Sahel and transhumance, the continuation of the implementation of the single currency program as well as the recent official opening of the Sèmè-Kraké (Nigeria-Benin) and Noèpé-Akanu (Togo-Ghana) checkpoints to boost intra-community trade. Other strides were given as the adoption and implementation of the common external tariff, the scheme for the liberalization of trade in local products and industrial products, the introduction of the biometric identity card symbol of a community identity and the adoption of the Community Investment Policy and Code, which is expected to give new impetus to the business environment in the region through the promotion of cross-border investments.
In his own brief, the AU chairperson who was visiting the ECOWAS Commission for the first time, disclosed that he was on tour of some West African states and deemed it appropriate to have an official engagement at the regional community headquarters.
Maintaining that the relationship between the AU and ECOWAS is that of subsidiarity and complementarity, Mr. Mahamat noted that both parties would love to see the fruits of a sensible division of labour and harmonized practices with the ongoing reforms. Stressing that ECOWAS has the most advanced instrument of integration on the continent playing a key role in Peace, security and political governance, he added: “We fully support what is being done by ECOWAS (Commission). We have worked together before and we will continue. To do so I am sure that institutional reforms will save cost lead to efficiency” He reiterated the necessity for the continent to speak with one voice on all of the issues that also include job creation and defend African interest even as some concerns that are specific to Africa such as terrorism, irregular migration are already being discussed with the European Union (EU). He emphasized the need for the AU Commission to work with the Regional Economic Communities for the implementation of programmes, seeing that the ongoing reforms will help in the creation of a more efficient process for the attainment of collective goals.
On the AU Chairperson’s delegation were the Union’s Commissioner for Human resources, Science and Technology Professor Sarah Anyang Agbo, his counterpart for Trade and Industry Professor Albert Muchanga as well as the principal strategic adviser, Professor Hacen Lebalt among other officers. Sectorial overviews were also given by the ECOWAS Commission’s Statutory Appointees who were on hand to support President Brou. These included Auditor-General Dr. Alfred Braimah, Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research Dr Kofi Apraku, Dr Siga Jagne (Social Affairs and Gender), Dr Zouli Boukoungou (Telecommunications and Information Technology), Dr Leopoldo Amado (Education, Science and Culture) and Dr Jeremias Furtado (Human Resources).