Stakeholders meet on ECOWAS cross-border program
Friday, August 07, 2009
A stakeholders meeting on the next steps and priority actions of the ECOWAS Cross-Border Cooperation Program was recently held in Abuja, Nigeria, from the 18th to the 23rd of May this year.
The meeting was organized by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD). It brought together the main cross-border cooperation actors within the ECOWAS region from The Gambia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, regional and international organizations such as the African Union Commission, Enda-Diapol, European Union, Nigero-Nigerian Joint Commission, OCAL, The Municipal Development Program (MDP), and the West African Monetary Union (WAMU). Civil society organizations, local government authorities, technical partners and resource persons also attended.
The discussions at the meeting focused on institutional and legal framework for cross-border cooperation, financial resources mobilization and partnerships building. The Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC) has facilitated the establishment and development of the ECOWAS Cross-Border Cooperation Program since its inception. Recommendations were made at the end of the three-day meeting, all geared towards the achievement of the short medium and longer term goals of Cross-Border Cooperation in West Africa.
Stakeholders agreed that cross-border steering committees should be established at zonal, national and regional levels to ensure better monitoring of the cross-border cooperation program and that the strengthening of networks such as the West African Borders and Integration Initiative (WABI) should be encouraged. It was agreed that ECOWAS should provide political, technical and financial support for the implementation of cross-border projects; that the cross border initiative program should be included within priorities of community development programs; financial partners should be encouraged to include cross-border co-operation in their initiatives; member states should promote exchange programs through twinning and other cooperative work; a community legal framework on cross-border cooperation should be adopted; member states should be strongly involved in the implementation of cross-border cooperation actions in their areas. It was also agreed that cross-border cooperation should be integrated in the priorities of the EU-ECOWAS roadmap (currently being negotiated).
The Gambian participants to the meeting were led by Saikou Sanyang, deputy permanent secretary - Ministry of Local Government and Lands, and they were Sambujang Badjie - Superintendent of Immigration, Gambia Immigration Department; Momodou Jallow, chief executive officer - Brikama Area Council; Cherno Jallow - media consultant and president of the Gambia Cross-Border Coordination Committee; Marcel Badjie , Director of Saint Joseph's Family Farm Project; and Kemo Conteh, Senior Partner and independent consultant, Governance Development and Management Services - GDMS.
Author: By Gibairu Janneh