The Meeting of experts of the regional organisations on the Sahel being convened by the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, opened in Abuja, Nigeria on Monday, September 17, 2018.
Organised by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the African Union, AU, and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, UNOWAS, the meeting is meant to stakeholders on recent institutional development in the Sahel, Identify priorities and opportunities for joint projects and their implementation challenges, while developing both a framework for effective resource mobilisation and a pathway for their efficient execution.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Kofi Konadu Apraku, the ECOWAS Commission’s commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, noted that the Sahel region is inhabited by over 300 million people across while seven of its 10 countries are Member States of ECOWAS with the consequence that negative developments in the Sahel directly impact on all states of the community.
The commissioner itemised the challenges of the Sahel to include economic weaknesses leading to extreme poverty, frequent food and nutrition crisis, political instability, conflicts, high population growth rates, weak public institutions, irregular migration and related crimes such as human trafficking and migrant smuggling, also violent extremism which is now posing serious security challenges with the potential spill-over effects growing beyond the frontiers of the region.
He stated that the ECOWAS Commission is convinced that “an integrated approach is needed to deal with the issues of peace and security, governance, and economic development” hence it is continuing in its efforts aimed at improving social, economic, political and security situation in order to improve the living conditions while enhancing the sustainable development of the people of the region.
According to Apraku, it is the firm belief of ECOWAS that an integrated “multi-focused development strategy involving several development actors and organisations has the best chance of succeeding in the Sahel region.”
Thus, he maintains that, the essence of cooperation by the regional organisations is “to build a much broader framework of support and synergy with other actors in the execution of the task ahead.”
Apradu especially stressed that the need to strengthen inter-institutional and regional cooperation has arisen from the fact that the situation in the Sahel remains fragile despite the numerous efforts and strategies to improve security, promote good governance and socio-economic development in the area.
In his presentation, Ibrahim Thiaw, the United Nations Secretary-General’s special adviser for the Sahel drew attention to the opportunities that exist in the Sahel which calls for a change of dynamics with more focus on disrupting the current trajectory.
He cited Energy as a critical game changer in the reality check on increasing productivity while remaining conscious of the international geopolitics that is being played in the Sahel.
The ECOWAS Sahel strategy is structured around the three main pillars of infrastructural development, sustainable agricultural productivity and food security and accessibility to education based on affordability and quality which estimated project cost for these and other themes such as peace and security and good governance has been put at about $4.7 billion.
The ECOWAS heads of state and government had at their Ordinary Summit of July 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria, adopted the Sahel strategy for the stabilisation and development of the Sahel Sub-Saharan region.
– Sept. 18, 2018 @ 18:05 GMT |