ECOWAS heads of state welcome the West African region’s enormous progress

19 May, 2015

Ghana’s President and current ECOWAS Chairman, John Dramani Mahama, welcomed the significant progress made by the West Africa region in 2015, while recalling the challenges lying ahead, including the Ebola virus disease, terrorism, elections scheduled for this year in other Member States, and youth unemployment.

In his opening address at the 47th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on Tuesday the 19th instant in Accra, Ghana, Mr Mahama recalled the region’s significant achievements in recent months, laying particular emphasis on the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the signing of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali on 15 May 2015.

Ghana’s President also welcomed the recent peaceful and fair presidential elections held in Nigeria and Togo, hoping that those scheduled for this year in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea will hold in the same manner and contribute to entrenching democracy in West Africa.

He also highlighted the improved situation in Guinea Bissau, with the support provided to this country by ECOWAS and other partners, enabling it commence its post-election period and hold on 25 March 2015 in Brussels, the donors’ round table aimed at obtaining the international community’s support for the country’s reconstruction and development programme.

On the security challenges in the sub-region, Mr Mahama reiterated the need for a firm commitment by the regional organization and its partners against the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria. He also welcomed the collaboration between ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAs) to eradicate the threat posed by this terrorist group.

Ghana’s Head of State indicated that youth employment is another major challenge facing the region. Mr Mahama urged his peers to carry out comprehensive reflections on this issue.

“The youth employment challenge faces each of our countries. This is actually a challenge that even the developed countries are encountering, but it is even more acute in our region which has a young population. This is a concern that we must pay particular attention to,” concluded the host of the Summit.

Following Ghana’s Head of State, the ECOWAS Commission President, Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, also spoke about the plight of African youth. He deplored the illegal migration to Europe, which these days has deprived hundreds of young Africans of their parents’ affection.

Mr Ouedraogo reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to intensifying efforts aimed at addressing the phenomenon’s root causes, through further cooperation with all parties concerned to protect the lives and dignity of these migrants.

“In that regard, I seize this opportunity to indicate that the effective implementation of our Sahel Strategy, particularly with the diversification of inclusive programmes that it intends to promote, will ensure more effective fight against illegal trafficking, cross-border crimes, terrorism and all other sources of insecurity and instability, as well as the rampant youth unemployment,” said the Commission President.

Referring to the 40th ECOWAS anniversary due to be celebrated on 28 May 2015, Mr Ouédraogo indicated that the commemoration of the event had already commenced in some Member States, demonstrating the need for the regional organization to highlight its achievements throughout 2015.

In addition to Ghana’s President John Mahama, the Summit enfolded the Heads of State of Burkina Faso, Michel Kafando, Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Senegal, Macky Sall, Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.

The Summit’s opening ceremony was also attended by the Gambian Vice-President, Cape Verde’s Prime Minister, representatives from Benin, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in West Africa, as well as the ECOWAS Vice-President, Commissioners and heads of other ECOWAS Institutions.

Member States