ECOWAS trade ministers meet in Senegal
“Private Sector Is Strategic for Regional Development” says Usman Boie Kamara
ECOWAS Ministers of Trade in the ECOWAS Member States over the weekend met at the NOVOTEL Hotel, in the Senegalese capital of Dakar for the Validation of the Draft Regional Strategic Framework and Policy for ECOWAS Private Sector Development (RS-PSD) and the outline for ECOWAS Business Council.
Sierra Leone was represented at the one day meeting by Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara Minister of Trade and Industry.
The welcome statement was given by the Commissioner for Macro- Economic Policy in the ECOWAS Commission and the open statement by the Senegalese Host Minister of Trade, who declared the meeting opened.
The objective of the meeting centered among others, for the Ministers to consider and adopt the earlier draft Regional Strategic Framework and Policy for Private Sector and Enterprise Development (RS- PSD) and the draft Outlined for the ECOWAS Business Council (EBC).
Giving a background of the project to this writer Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara said as part of the transformation of ECOWAS from a secretariat to a Commission in 2007, the Private Sector Directorate was established under the Marco Economic Policy Commission with a broad mandate of having a single – minded focus on the implementation of Private Sector Development Activities in the sub-region.
He added that since 2009, the Private Sector Directorate has developed several action plans one of which relates to action to be taken by ECOWAS Commission in respect of Private sector issues and that one of the agreed post 2009 actions agreed upon was greater engagement of the ECOWAS Private Sector in regional integration issues.
The ECOWAS Commission according to the Trade Minister initiated the drafting of a framework document of a regional strategy and Policy Development of the Private Sector document by a panel of experts on which Sierra Leone was represented. “Based on a consultative process using the Private Sector of experts development strategies of member countries, the panel of experts produced two draft documents which have been validated by the Commission” he explained.
According to a documentary summary put out by the Commission, the RS- PSD proposed a 7 pillar Policy Framework for Private Sector Development in West Africa. Its vision is to promote sustainable, environmentally efficient growth in member countries, capitalizing on the region’s entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and knowledge resources with a focus on promoting social inclusion through extending economic opportunities to communities , in areas where this is most needed.
It also stated that several regional business associations have been set up under the auspices of the ECOWAS Private Sector Directorate to help increase the engagement of the Private Sector and the Civil Society in the regional economic development agenda. Such interaction, the documentary summary stated, would help raise national and regional level advocacy and the tempo of representation of stakeholders in the regional governance structure as well as ensure their effective consultative and participation. Some of these Institutions include — West African Bankers Association, West African Insurance Company, West Africa Chambers of Commerce, ECOWAS Federation of Business Women and ECOWAS Exports Actors Platform.
Again according to Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara, “A recurrent theme in the document is the need to co – ordinate , align and harmonize ECOWAS Private Sector objectives with those of UEMOA and the wider programmes of support from Development Partners under various bilateral and multi- lateral framework in the spirit of Paris Declaration and Accra Accord on Donor effectiveness”
Hon Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara recommended the adoption of the draft Regional Strategic framework and Policy for Private Sector and Enterprise Development without reservation. He noted that since Sierra Leone Private Sector is relatively weak and may not readily fulfill some of the criteria outlined for membership, he strongly advocated for the application of article 2,4 relating to geographical balance on the Council as there is a strong tendency that the Council will be dominated by Regional Economic Powers and UEMOA Countries.
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