West African sub-regional body ECOWAS and the European Union (EU) on Wednesday met over a 120 million Euros support meant to enhance trade competitiveness and improve the business climate in the sub-region.
The Euros 120 million support, which is in furtherance of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), is also aimed at enhancing the levels of production, transformation, selected strategic value chains, and export capacities of private sector operators in the sub-region.
Speaking at the 2nd overall Strategic Steering Committee of the WACOMP in Abuja, Mr Mamadou Traore, ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, said that the programme would “create jobs, improve the business climate and overall competitiveness of the region.”
Implementation of the programme is in two phases, covering eight countries per phase, although the states were not identified.
“The national and regional components of the programme have been detailed out in the Programme Estimates, with clear roles and activities for all stakeholders and committee members.
“A governance structure has also been put in place at national and regional levels to monitor and ensure effective implementation and attainment of programme objectives,” he said.
He added that the first meeting of the Steering Committee, part of the governance structure, was held in 2018 to review preparations and kick-start the implementation of the programme.
According to him, this second meeting is critical to the success of the overall programme because its conclusions on the extent of implementation so far would help in the evaluation of performance and advice on necessary initiatives to improve the next level deliveries.
“West Africa has a huge wealth-generating capacity that can be exploited and leveraged to contribute to the competitiveness of the region as well as the continental and global wealth.
“Indeed, over the years, the region has been achieving an economic growth rate of about 3 per cent per annum with an increasing consumer class and investors.
“Though investments have essentially remained in commodities and retail, as opposed to manufacturing and services, WACOMP can turn this up by improving the capacity of our enterprises to transform and add substantial value and quality to our offers and products.
“This is so that adequate wealth can be created and retained or exported from the region.
“This will transform the region into a high productivity zone with attendant benefits,” he said.
Mr Cornelis Kurt, Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to Nigeria said that the setting up of a Steering Committee a year ago marked the completion of the first year of implementation of the programme.
He said that the programme built the potential for investment and job creation in very concrete terms, bringing together key stakeholders, policy makers, regulators, businesses, support organisations, and business associations.
“It is immensely important that we all meet at least once a year to review progress, share experiences, where other colleagues can learn from our successes and our mistakes.
“That will give direction to our implementing partners and agree on the plans for the coming year.
“Our 120 million euros support, however, remains a drop in the ocean of investment needs and we should be reminded of the need for concerted and enforced efforts by the national administrations, the regional organisations, and the donor community.
“In parallel, the involvement of the private sector will grow in importance if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the stated deadline.
“For the EU part, as the delegation responsible for the regional cooperation, we have fully committed our current budget at the regional level, and we are already embarking on the new budget programming cycle.
“The new budget will effectively become available as of 2021, which gives us the time to think, draw lessons from the presently implemented programmes and adjust the priorities where necessary.” (NAN)