The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stressed the importance of political stability, peace and security for the prosperity of the region.
Dr Omar Touray, President of ECOWAS Commission, stated this at the 64th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on Sunday in Abuja.
He said that political stability would enable the region to enjoy the free flow of investments and improved socio-economic relations among the various member countries.
‘’The flow of foreign capital and intra-regional trade and investment have been affected by the risk rating of our region. We are challenged to improve the business environment in our community to take advantage of the growing interests of investors in our community.
‘’We have made the development of regional infrastructure and business-friendly policies a cornerstone of our integration in the region. It is in this context that on 17th November, 2023, we inaugurated the International Coordination Centre of the West African Power Pool in Abomey-Calavi in Benin Republic, which now enables trade in electricity across our region.
‘’The unified electricity market achieved through this project will improve access to electricity by areas of low generation from areas with high supply. With the exception of Cabo Verde all the Member States of ECOWAS are connected to the system, which makes the sale and purchase of electricity among them possible.
‘’We are grateful to the European Union for the support of 35 million Euros towards the realisation of this project,’’ he said.
Touray said that the commission had kept faith with the decisions taken against member countries that had breached democratic tenets through unconstitutional takeover of power.
He added that the commission was undeterred by the actions of the military junta in the Niger Republic in respect of the humanitarian efforts of the ECOWAS leaders.
“In spite of pressures from different quarters, we have kept up with the decision on the Republic of Niger and engaged them on the terms set out for us.
‘’The military authorities have, unfortunately, shown little remorse as they hold onto their untenable positions, holding not only President Bazoum, his family, and members of his government hostage, but also the people of Niger.
“We are aware of the dire humanitarian situation in Niger Republic. And in line with the provisions of our community texts, we granted humanitarian access to medical and humanitarian goods for the sake of the people.
“But report from humanitarian agencies show that the military authorities have been interfering with humanitarian access,’’ he said.
The ECOWAS Commission President, however, highlighted some challenges faced by the commission, but quickly added that foreign partners had been of help all along.
“Allow me to highlight the situation of the Community Levy, which is the lifeline of the community institutions and integration programmes. As you would recall, a levy of 0.5% on imports from outside the Community is being collected by Member States on behalf of ECOWAS.
“However, for some time now, access to these funds have been a challenge. This has led to low resource mobilisation. The situation is more critical now that our Member States under sanctions have stopped remitting the levy. As the financial situation gets more difficult, the tasks for ECOWAS are growing.
“I have been compelled to bring this matter to your attention because we have the community’s action plan against terrorism to implement.
“Specifically, we have peacekeeping missions to sustain, vital integration programmes to finance, transitions in member states under military rule to support, and various socio-economic and humanitarian problems to tackle,” he explained. (NAN)