Good Year for West Africa

Ouedraogo at the opening of the 42nd Summit of HSG
Ouedraogo at the opening of the 42nd Summit of HSG

West African regional growth rate in 2012 put at 6.9 percent, is more than double the global rate recorded last year

|  By Maureen Chigbo  |  Mar. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

“IN spite of the global economic slow down, the West African regional growth remained robust with a growth rate estimated at 6.9 per cent,” according to the 2012 annual report of the ECOWAS Commission. The report, which covered various aspects of the organisation’s activities and programmes for the year under review, was presented by Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, president of ECOWAS Commission at the 42nd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’ Ivoire in February.

According to the report, West Africa achieved an economic growth rate of 6.9 percent in 2012, which is more than double the global rate and an increase over the 5.9 per cent recorded by the region in the preceding year. The figures which compare favourably with the 5.3 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa and 4.5 per cent for Africa over the same period, were driven mainly by good rainfall and positive developments in the mining and petroleum sectors. Of the 15 ECOWAS countries, Sierra Leone recorded the highest economic growth rate of 18.3 per cent compared to expected rate of 8 per cent for Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Niger, while Mali recorded a recession.

But for the political crises in Guinea-Bissau and Mali, the President said, the Community implemented its 2012 work programme in an atmosphere characterised by “relative political stability and improved political and economic governance.”

He said the region has also finalised its draft Common External Tariff of 5794 tariff lines in five categories with accompanying measures that will provide member states with additional instruments for protection and flexibility within the context of creating a Customs Union for the region.

On free movement of people and goods, which has been dogged by impediments, the President said 11 of the 15 member states have institutionalised ECOWAS passport with common features, while a programme launched in 2012 for the use of biometric identity cards as travel documents will become operational in 2015.

Also, 24 projects valued at 426.8 million Euros were being processed under the Regional Indicative Progamme of the European Development Fund, while other measures have been taken to improve agricultural productivity through  interconnection of information systems, and adoption of a collaborative approach for coordinated and harmonised responses to food crises, he said.

The region has also procured and installed equipment that will enable it use satellites to monitor rainfall, drought, small water bodies and fires as well as  and finalised a draft document on the implementation of the strategic work programme for adaptation to the environment. The project cost is 9.5 million US dollars. To improve its early warning capability, the region has launched a study on the Sahel Saharan conflict systems, and with another ongoing study on the Mano River conflict systems.

Ouédraogo also announced that the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions, along with the Nigerian government, would provide 10 million US dollars to strengthen democracy and stability in Guinea-Bissau.

The report equally covered the activities of other community institutions such as ECOWAS Parliament, which is implementing activities under its four-year strategic objectives designed to strengthen citizens involvement in decision-making, as well as strengthen its institutional role in the integrating process, promote and defend human rights and related issues in the region and collaboration with related institutions.

The President said the West African Health Organisation, WAHO, was also involved in equipping the Abidjan Reference Laboratory for the diagnosis of diseases with epidemic potentials and designing of a road map for combating malaria.

To improve energy availability and access, he said, the West African Power Pool, WAPP, was actively working on inter-connection projects for energy trading, including those connecting Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

WAPP expects, by the end of 2013, to complete the 60-MW Felou Hydro Power facility, the 9.6-million-Euro project linking Côte d’Ivoire with Liberia and the commissioning of the Ghana component of the 330-KV Ghana-Togo interconnection project.

The President also announced that ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, EBID, has seen its total balance increase by 15.1 per cent between September 2011 and September 2012 to 341 million Units of Account, enabling it to increase lending to support the private sector and contribute to stimulating the regional economy.

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