Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS announced it has concluded plans to implement sub-regional development projects worth 29.66 billion dollars for the period of 2018 to 2022.
Marcel Alain de Souza who is the President of the Commission, said this while presenting the Status Report on the State of the Community to the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
Mr. De Souza was represented by the commission’s Vice President, Edward Singhatey and he explained that the projects would come under the Community Development Programme and cover seven priority sectors including infrastructure, energy, agriculture and health.
“For the period 2018 to 2022, the commission has selected seven priority projects from key sectors namely: Infrastructure, energy, agriculture and health,” Singhatey stated.
“The overall cost of these projects is estimated at $29.66 billion.
“In order to mobilise funds for the realisation of these priority projects for the region, a donor’s roundtable on the projects will hold in Abidjan on 25th and 26th January.”
He also addressed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and West Africa, saying that only Gambia, Mauritania and Nigeria were yet to sign.
According to De Souza, the commission had organised workshops for the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and other trade unions to understand the benefit of the partnership.
Furthermore, he said the meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the proposed ECOWAS single currency was scheduled to hold in Feb. 2018.
He said the EPA, ECOWAS single currency, the Common External Tariff among others, were plans aimed at promoting integration, intraregional trade and international cooperation.
On the issue of slavery of Africans in Libya, De Souza said it would not take lightly the maltreatment of its citizens across countries in Northern Africa.
Reports of gruesome sights of torture, selling and killings of African youths in some North African countries has sparked a global outcry, thus parliamentarians raised concerns over efforts made by the sub-regional bloc to investigate the atrocities.
Some members of the parliament also expressed concerns over the requests made by Tunisia to be an observer country and Morocco to be a member of ECOWAS respectively, in spite of reported abuse against African migrants in those countries.
Hence the commission’s president called for a thorough investigation of and judicial enquiries to be made to ensure that perpetrators of acts of abuse were brought to justice.
De Souza said:
“With regard to their [Tunisia and Morocco] inclusion in ECOWAS, they will be bound to ensure that they look after our citizens within their shores; but at the end of the day, there is no guarantee with regards to that.
“Through engagement, we will be able to put our interests forward to ensure that these states know that we do not take likely the maltreatment of any of our community citizens and what is happening across North Africa right now is unacceptable.”
He reiterated the several measures put in place by the bloc to skillfully engage the youth to curb the illegal migration.
“We do not know how many exactly of our youths are in Libya or where all of them are because we understand that some of them are being held in different detention centres.
“We do not have enough funds to go to Libya and bring them, so we have written to the International Organisation for Migration for immediate and urgent assistance.
The ECOWAS President informed that there are efforts to stop the tide of youths flowing northwards
“We have to keep them [youths] by giving them reasons to stay and find a decent living for themselves.
“But if we continue this trend with very little funds, there is also very little we can do. We are constantly engaging our donours to try to immediately do something for us,” De Souza said.