Wednesday, November 26, 2014

EU ENVOY: West Africa could be next ‘emerging region’

Of recent, there have been reports of booming economies in Africa, but analysts said economic growth is usually not visibly trickled down to the poor citizens of the continent. (Photo Credit: Forum de Banjul).
West Africa could be “the next emerging region in the world” if it improves access to markets, and makes conscious effort in addressing the challenges of competitiveness, EU’s ambassador to ECOWAS and Nigeria said Wednesday.

[The sub-regional economic bloc’s] economies have managed to, and are still growing despite the challenges it is grappling with, Ambassador Michel Arrion said at an Abuja launch of the Regional Economic Integration and Trade Support programme, and the West African Private Sector Competitiveness Support Programme on 26 November.

He said with abundant natural resources, and irrespective of constraints, West Africa could consider these “as opportunities, which if addressed, could allow the region to leap frog in its development quest.”

Gambian journalist Sanna Camara in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, told TNBES: “The three-year project worth over 40 million Euros, according to ECOWAS, seeks to accelerate the process of achieving customs union by supporting the ECOWAS Commission in improving its Trade Liberalisation Scheme.

“[It is also aimed at] developing a common trade policy, facilitating the harmonisation of trade-related policies and statistical data, and disseminating trade related information.” The government of Germany is co-financing.

Ambassador Arrion explained the programme will support West Africa in two ways:

“By supporting ECOWAS and [West African Economic Monetary Union] WAEMU in completing the regional economic integration process, at a time when it’s critical to focus on the effective establishment of the single market and the common external tariff; and improving competitiveness of the private sector, supporting implementation of trade agreements now under negotiation with other economic regions.”

EU Ambassador to ECOWAS and Nigeria Michel Arrion (Photo Credit: Sanna Camara/Gambia Beat)
According to him, the sub-region has made significant achievements in terms of political stability, peace and security over the past years.

Also, the EU diplomat noted that “…it has advanced in its regional integration roadmap and set ambitious milestones for the immediate future – such as the establishment of Common External Tariff by January 2015, or the adoption of a single currency by 2020… ECOWAS and WAEMU are instrumental in this process.”

Of recent, there have been reports of booming economies in Africa, but analysts said economic growth is usually not visibly trickled down to the poor citizens of the continent.

In April, Nigeria "rebased" its gross domestic product (GDP) data, to push it above South Africa as the continent's biggest economy. Kenya has done the same to move into Africa’s top 10 economies.

"The Nigerian population is not better off tomorrow because of that announcement. It doesn't put more money in the bank, more food in their stomach. It changes nothing," Nigerian financial analyst Bismarck Rewane told the BBC. 

At a press conference held on the sidelines of the launch, Ambassador Arrion told journalists:

“This project will help West Africa manufacturers to produce ‘Made in ECOWAS’ goods. It will help manufacturers produce quality products that West Africa consumers want to buy – the quality and the price has to be right.

“If the private sector is producing the right products for the consumers, there is a huge market here in West Africa for its consumption…”

Written by Modou S. Joof


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