West Africa: Ecowas Targets Deeper Economic Integration; with West Africa Getting on Top of the Political Instability That Has Wrecked the Region for the Past 15 Years, Ecowas Is Now to Concentrate on Economic Integration. Baffour Ankomah and Ben Asante Report from Accra

Article excerpt

Deeper economic integration was the key phrase on everyone's lips when Ecowas leaders ended their 28th Ordinary Summit in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, on 19 January. The heads of state, therefore, approved a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the region intended to ensure sustainable food security, the rational management of the region's natural resources and decent remuneration for those engaged in agriculture, the mainstay of the region's economy.

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According to Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the executive secretary of Ecowas:

"Although the CAP will not pay out subsidies to farmers as it is done in Europe because we don't have the money to do so, it is intended to promote the sustainable expansion of trade in agricultural products within and outside the region as well as being a tool for poverty alleviation and employment."

Formulated in collaboration with relevant regional and international institutions, the CAP was endorsed by Ecowas ministers of agriculture at their meeting in Cotonou, Benin, on 8 January 2005.

Dr Chambas said with the conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea Bissau now resolved, leaving Cote d'Ivoire as the main headache of the region, Ecowas could now concentrate on deeper economic integration, which it is going to do with all dispatch.

The heads of state, therefore, decided to make regional infrastructural development a number one priority from now on. In this regard, they revised the master plan for improving electricity supply in the region through increased investment in generation and distribution as well as the establishment of a common regulatory regime that will institute power trading, reduce the cost of generation and facilitate private sector participation in the sector.

The revised master plan envisages the implementation of 14 priority transmission projects in the region estimated at US$1.3 billion under the West African Power Pool (WAPP), the Ecowas energy integration programme which seeks to maximize the use of the region's energy potential through joint development of resources for electricity generation.

In all, according to Dr Chambas, over $16 billion will be invested between now and 2020 in power generation and transmission. …