ECOWAS national planning experts meet in Lagos, Nigeria to sensitise members on the need to integrate its strategic framework into national plans
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 23, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE national planning experts of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, gathered in Lagos, from Wednesday, February 18 to 20, to brainstorm on how to harmonise and integrate the Community Strategic Framework, CSF, (2016-2020) into national plans. This will boost regional and national development in ECOWAS member states, so as to realise its Vision 2020.
Essien Abel Essien, director, ECOWAS Strategic Planning Directorate and organiser of the meeting, said the region was in the process of launching the CSF and a stakeholder consultation mechanism with experts from member states’ national planning ministries as critical partners. The key objective is to form a technical committee that will coordinate and harmonise strategic planning at regional and national levels and report to sectoral ministers for the escalation of recommendations to the council of ministers for adoption and approval.
Essien said the technical committee would facilitate the coordination and integration of regional aspirations into national plans and lay the ground for effective execution of strategic and development plans. Since the establishment of the Strategic Planning Directorate, SPD, in 2008, this is first time the body was opportune to discuss the strategic planning process of ECOWAS with the experts who coordinate the design and implementation of national development plans among member states. The formulation of the CSF comes at the end of the implementation of the regional strategic plan, RSP, 2011-2015, which was the first strategic plan for ECOWAS.
The Regional Strategic Plan, RSP, 2011-2015 was adopted in June 2010 to realise the ECOWAS Vision 2020. A set of programmes were identified, which included community projects to be undertaken up to year 2020 and the implementation of the RSP comes to an end in 2015. “There is need to commence the preparation of a successor plan. Lessons from the implementation of the RSP and changes in both the internal and external environment suggest that this new plan be formulated as a CSF for the period 2016 – 2020. This successor plan, beyond the coverage of the RSP, will provide overall direction with respect to community goals, set out principles of engagement with stakeholders, and provide guidance to community institutions and agencies in the design and preparation of their strategic plans,” he said.
According to Essien, ECOWAS requires a planning process that is participatory and inclusive and for this reason, the planning experts of the member states gathered and deliberated on the methodologies that would facilitate the coordination and integration of regional aspirations into national plans. “The meeting also discussed development planning in member states, and the modality for a comprehensive stakeholder consultation exercise in member states on the CSF as well as establishing a regional structure for mainstreaming regional programmes into national planning efforts. At the end of the meeting, we expect to come up with guidelines on the issue of mainstreaming and managing regional integration at the national level.
Tunde Lawal, director, Micro Economic Analysis, ministry of planning, Abuja, told Realnews that the meeting was to sensitise experts from the member states on the process of adopting the regional plan of ECOWAS commission. He reiterated the benefits of bringing regional perspectives into national planning and urged participants to come up with concrete recommendations for the domestication of regional plans and policies for coordinated regional development and integration.
“Actually, the ECOWAS commission is impressed on the great things that are being done in Nigeria and I am the representative expert from Nigeria that is why Nigeria is the host. At the end of this meeting, we will be fully equipped on the timeline it will take the commission to prepare for the plan. Secondly, what will be the role of member nations and experts in various ministry of national planning in various countries? What they should do to ensure that projects from their country will find a place in the regional strategic plan of the commission. With this in mind, the ECOWAS Vision 2020 will be achieved within the timeframe,” he said.