ABUJA – (ECOWAS Secretariat Report) – The Strategic Steering Committee of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) has commenced its second annual meeting on 30th October 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The The participants at meeting which comprises of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, the European Union (EU), the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) have as their aim strengthening the competitiveness of West African countries and enhancing their integration into the regional and international trading system.
The report from the ECOWAS Communication Division inscribed that the programme funded by the EU to the tune of 120 million euros and implemented with the assistance of ITC and UNIDIO aims to support a number of selected value chains at national and regional levels. It also points out that it gears towards promoting structural transformation and better access to regional and international markets, while taking into account social and environmental concerns.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, the Commissioner of Industry and Private Sector Promotion in ECOWAS Commission, Mamadou Traore stated that the programme consists of one regional component and sixteen national components, referring to 15 ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania. Adding, it will be implemented in two phases, covering eight countries per phase.
The Commissioner stressed that the effective implementation of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme will increase the success of the ECOWAS integration work program and contribute substantially to the delivery of the much needed competitiveness in West Africa.
While noting several challenges of the business climate in the region, Mamadou Traore enthused that WACOMP has the potential to provide enterprises and institutions with the capabilities to lay the foundation for stimulating the actions that can challenge these limitations as well as promote competitiveness and free the population from economic poverty.
Also speaking during the opening session of the meeting, the Head of Cooperation in the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Kurt Cornelis hinted that it is important to stress the role of the Programme in a bigger EU Policy context such as the new Africa-EU Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.
“This programme builds the potential for investment and job creation in very concrete terms, bringing together key stakeholders such as policy makers, regulators, businesses, support organisations and business associations,” he said.
The programme will also see the EU and ECOWAS set up a competitiveness observatory in West Africa which has a budget of 8 million euros. The Observatory will contribute to improving public and private sector access to reliable and comprehensive information and data which will enable policy makers to formulate, implement and monitor policies and strategies that will contribute to West Africa’s competitiveness.
Kurt Cornelian informed that the WACOMP Observatory also known as WACOB will achieve this by collecting qualitative and quantitative data and information on competitiveness from identified sources. He said it will also create a database, in order to provide relevant information and services for the public and private sectors as well as analyze and evaluate the impact of policies on trade, business and competitiveness performance in West Africa.