Heads of ECOWAS National Offices meeting underway in Accra
By Iddi Yire, GNA
Accra, Nov. 6, GNA – Mr Mohammed Habib Tijani, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has opened the 2020 annual meeting of Heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) National Offices in Accra.
The three-day meeting on the theme: “Enhancing the Coordinating and Networking Role of the Heads of ECOWAS National Officers within the COVID-19 Pandemic Era,” is being attended by 15 participants from the sub-region.
The Heads of ECOWAS National Offices play a critical role in ensuring that each Member State fully participates in, and contribute to the regional integration process.
The meeting is a platform for the exchange of ideas and sharing of best practices among the Heads of ECOWAS National Offices.
It is a forum to discuss the achievements and challenges of the implementation of Community programmes at the national level.
Mr Tijani said the meeting was taking place at an important time when the region was not only threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by terrorists and extremists groups, deterioration in socio-political situations, financial and economic difficulties, as well as agitations.
He noted that despite the challenges, they had good opportunities to deploy positive energies and talents from Heads of ECOWAS National Offices to work together in a concerted faction to help ECOWAS deal with the challenges of the time.
Mr Tijani said expectations were that at the technical level of the Heads of ECOWAS National Offices, innovative recommendations would be made to inform effective decisions to address the myriad of challenges confronting the region.
Mr Tijani recalled the election of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in September as Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government in Niger at the 57th Ordinary Meeting.
He said the priorities of Ghana’s Chairmanship of ECOWAS during the President’s tenure of office, included insecurity and tourism in the region.
Others are the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfFTA) agreement on January 1, 2021, and the 2022 decision on the monetary union within ECOWAS, consolidation of democratic governance in the region and the effects of COVID-19 on the economies of member states.
Mr Tijani said the priority areas, which were consistent with the agenda, required attention during deliberations to develop an effective framework for deeper integration in the region in the interest of community citizens.
In that regard, the need for horizontal and internal cooperation among ECOWAS National Offices could not be overemphasized.
Mr Tijani urged the Heads of ECOWAS National Offices to establish a strong inter-agency and institutional networks within their respective countries, as well as among member states.
He said Ghana remained committed to the implementation of ECOWAS programmes and activities, hence its contributions to the ECOWAS Community League.
“Ghana is willing and ready to work closely with this body to achieve the aspirations of our community at all times, especially during our chairmanship.”
Mrs Halima Ahmed, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Finance, lauded President Akufo-Addo for visiting the ECOWAS Secretariat in September on his assumption of office as the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State.
She also expressed gratitude to the President for presenting his priority agenda to the Commission, adding that the Commission was working towards the implementation of the five priority agenda.
Madam Ahmed said the objective of the Accra meeting was to discuss how best ECOWAS Member States were managing the COVID-19 responses to share best practices on sensitisation activities with key stakeholders such as the youth, women and community organisations at the national level.
Mr Baba Gana Wakil, the Resident Representative of ECOWAS in Ghana, commended Ghana for being among countries doing very well in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.