Press Releases

Message of the President of the Commission on the 43rd Anniversary of ECOWAS

29 May, 2018

Dear ECOWAS Citizens,

As we commemorate the 43rd anniversary of ECOWAS, I wish first of all, to pay glowing tribute to the founding fathers and those who took on the baton, for the great strides we have made due to their vision and determination. These pioneers, who were visionaries as well as activists, deserve our deep gratitude since, thanks to them, we can today enjoy the benefits of their achievements and look confidently to the future.

Whilst I say this, I am of course mindful of the fact that in spite of the shocks due to the fall in commodity prices and the crises which hit the global economy, our Community has recorded acceptable levels of growth, exceeding 7% in some countries.

I also call to mind the genuine progress we have made, some of which I would like to mention. They are:
• the further deepening of the democratic culture in our region, accompanied with even greater effectiveness in conflict and crisis prevention and resolution, due particularly to an efficient early warning system,
• consolidation of a region without borders with the implementation of a road map and a regional monitoring mechanism, in order to remove all obstacles to the free movement of persons and goods,
• the Common External Tariff,
• creation of the ECOWAS Radio in Liberia,
• introduction of the biometric ID card,
• adoption and implementation of policies in sectors as essential as agriculture, energy, water and health, in addition to education, science and technology,
• implementation of the industrialisation programme of our region, with emphasis on quality promotion,
• the consensus achieved to give priority to the region in our dealings with all countries and development partners.
These achievements, of which we can certainly be proud, were obtained only due to our determination to push our integration even further. However, I hasten to add that we must not rest on our laurels given the many challenges we have yet to overcome. In particular, we should strengthen our collective efforts to counter terrorism and continue, in solidarity, to actively combat global warming and its disastrous effects notably on our agricultural sector and environment. Similarly, we must continue to work relentlessly towards the creation of the single currency.
The truth is that as we commemorate the 43rd anniversary of our Community, we should bear in mind that our ambition is to evolve an ECOWAS of People in a manner such as to render irreversible our present achievements and future progress. It is in this way that we can accomplish the harmonious development of our people in peace and security, the very raison d’etre of our Community.

In that regard, it is clear that governments have the responsibility to initiate and lead these efforts which will only be successful when they become the concern of all sections of the society. All citizens must be placed in a position in which they are able to participate, particularly women and young people. It is on this basis that the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre and the Youth and Sports Development Centre were created. Speaking of women, I must reiterate our firm readiness to pursue significant gender policies in Member States, including women empowerment and ensuring greater access for them to political, economic, social and cultural arenas of decision-making. For young people, curbing unemployment remains at the core of our priorities, with special attention on initiatives to promote their employability.

In essence, celebrating the 43rd ECOWAS anniversary is not merely about restating our faith in the factors which unite us. It is also about renewing our commitment to remain faithful, by working decisively for the attainment of our regional goals and by strengthening this beautiful solidarity which enabled us to put an end to Ebola, the civil war in Liberia and the political crises of which the most recent were in The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone.

By observing for the first time, the tradition of delivering a message on this occasion, I wish to commend the wisdom of the Heads of State and Government and their commitment to this regional enterprise. In expressing to them my sincere thanks, I pay them tribute for having made of ECOWAS, in keeping with their precursors, an economic community often cited as an example in the world.

My gratitude also goes to all private and public stakeholders in our Community, for their faith in regional integration and our development partners, for the support provided for our programmes.

Finally, while I say a big well done to the staff of ECOWAS institutions for their valuable contribution to our progress on the path of integration, I encourage them, more than ever before, to work actively to attain this noble cause, towards the development of our infrastructure and the creation of the single currency.

Jean-Claude Kassi Brou
President of the ECOWAS Commission

Member States