January 27, 2023

ECOWAS pushes for policy priority to kick-off economic growth post-COVID-19

By Victoria Ojeme

Bissau: The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has urged governments of the ECOWAS countries to give policy priority to programmes that will promote pro-growth economic policies and enhance institutions to enable economic growth.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr Sidie Mohamed Tunis in an address at the closing of the parliamentary seminar on Sequencing ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Towards Single Currency, with the theme: “ECOWAS Common Currency and the Inter Bank Payment System as Promoters of Regional Trade,” holding in Bissau, Guinea Bissau, argued that such policies will translate to a reduction the economic dependency of the region.

Regional integration occupies a prominent place in the economic policies of most sub-Saharan African countries. However, despite different waves of initiatives across the African continent, the majority of African regional schemes have not managed to achieve their ambitious goal of promoting sustainable development through trade integration.

The socioeconomic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ripple effect of the conflict in Ukraine have led to increased costs of food, fuel, and agricultural inputs – particularly fertilizer – in the region according to the joint studies conducted by ECOWAS, UNECA, FAO and WFP.

These studies revealed that West African countries are highly dependent on food imports – with the region spending US$ 4.5 billion in 2019 on cereal imports. Dependence on wheat imports is particularly acute in Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and Benin, where just over half of the wheat consumed comes from Russia.

However, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament who was represented by the Fourth Deputy Speaker, Adja Satu Camara Pinto said there still remains an urgent need for monetary policies in the sub-region to jump start economic growth.

He said “Now that we have realised the economic growth in our country that is very important. Member States also need to take actions that will require payment systems, harmonisation, integration and necessary infrastructure for our sub-region.

“I believe that all of us will agree to work together towards achieving our objectives. We also need to sensitize our communities on the Single Currency.

In his remarks, Hon Califa Seidi from Guinea Bissau, urged member states to look more inward on making the ECOWAS economy stronger than the issue of a single currency.

He said, “As far as the mechanism is concerned, nothing has been achieved, when you come to the issue of single Currency, the population of National sovereignty is very vital, our leaders have a very big role to play by sensitising the populace.

“We should not only be talking about the single Currency now 2027 for me, the introduction is not successful. We should be looking at a strong economy. We do not produce despite the fact that we have a lot of raw materials,” he added.