74TH Council meeting to be dominated by regional integration and economic development15 May, 2015
Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, has expressed satisfaction at the significant progress recorded this year by ECOWAS in regional integration and economic development. This was in spite of the limitations imposed by the Community’s cash flow problems, the economic and financial difficulties experienced by Member States, and the Ebola virus disease.
Speaking on Friday, 15 May 2015 at the opening of the 74th ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Accra, Ghana, Mrs Tetteh, also Council Chair, commended the efforts made by the Member States and Community Institutions in fighting the terrible Ebola disease which had claimed the lives of over 10,000 people in West Africa.
On the financial situation of the Community Institutions, she recalled that a meeting was held in April 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria, to seek solutions to the pending issues concerning the assessment, collection and deposit of the Community Levy proceeds. The report of that meeting will be submitted to this Council session.
“Meanwhile, I will stress the need for Member States to assist the Commission in carrying out its responsibilities by promoting the regional integration agenda on an even grander scale. Given the importance of the Community Levy, which is the major funding source for Community activities, I hope we will discuss this matter dispassionately and make recommendations to the Authority,” Mrs Tetteh stated.
Speaking in turn, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh, took stock of the progress achieved by the organisation since the 73rd ordinary Council session, particularly in the areas of health, the economy, security and politics.
Regarding politics, Mr McIntosh lauded the peaceful conduct of the electoral campaigns culminating in the 2015 presidential elections in Togo and Nigeria and the exemplary outcome of the Nigerian polls.
“I am therefore optimistic as to the peaceful conduct of elections later this year in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. The Commission will fulfil its responsibilities in that regard”, the Vice President affirmed.
In the case of Guinea-Bissau, he highlighted all the possible support ECOWAS had lent to that Member State to enable it kick-off its post-electoral phase and organise, on 25 March 2015 in Brussels, Belgium, a donor roundtable aimed at obtaining the concrete support of the international community for its reconstruction and development programme.
Mr McIntosh appealed for a mandate extension for the peacekeeping force (ECOMIB) in the country, calling for conditions to be provided to the force such as will enable it support the Guinea Bissau Government in meeting the new challenges of the reconstruction and development programme.
In the case of Burkina Faso, it was noted that the Commission had also continued to afford every support to the transition process in the country by providing President Macky Sall of Senegal with all the cooperation necessary to accomplish the task entrusted to him by his peers, and by participating in the meetings of the International Follow-up and Support Group for the Transition.
“In spite of the difficulties inherent in any political transition, we can be confident of a successful outcome in Burkina Faso. I hasten to add that while we trust in the sense of responsibility of the transition stakeholders and, more generally, the maturity of the Burkinabe people, we should remain vigilant and ensure that our expectations are not cut short,” Mr McIntosh went on to add.
The Vice President also stressed the importance of the year 2015, which marks the 40th anniversary of ECOWAS as well as the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), implementation of the automated management system Ecolink, along with the modernisation of the ECOWAS website.
“The modernisation of the Commission’s website to create greater visibility and accessibility to the opportunities offered by ECOWAS to its citizens, is another measure that should contribute to the effectiveness of the institution which plays a crucial role in achieving integration,” Mr McIntosh concluded.
The 74th Council of Ministers will be devoted mainly to the consideration of a set of issues of key interest for deepening the regional integration process and relating, among others, to the functioning of ECOWAS institutions and organs and economic development.
Council, comprising the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the ECOWAS Member States, will consider in particular, the 2014 interim report of the Commission President and the 2014 final report of the Financial Controller.
Members of Council will also consider the status of implementation of the Community Levy Protocol, Memorandum on the end of tenure of some ECOWAS Commission statutory officers, Memorandum on the first phase of institutional reforms, in addition to the report on the Economic Partnership Agreement between West Africa and European Union.