Nigeria: ECOWAS planning experts brainstorm on regional, national development plans

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - National planning experts from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Wednesday began a three-day brainstorming in Lagos on the integration of the regional aspirations into national development plans.

“It is clear that ECOWAS requires a planning process that is participatory and inclusive. For this reason, planning experts are gathered here to deliberate on the methodology for facilitating the coordination and integration of regional aspirations into national plans, in order to lay a solid foundation for effective execution of strategic development plans,” ECOWAS Director of Strategic Planning Directorate, Mr. Essien Abel Essien, said at the opening of the meeting.

The meeting is being held for the first time since the establishment of the Community's Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD) in 2008.

Also, the meeting is coming at the end of the implementation of the first Regional Strategic Plan (RSP) 2011-2015, and the beginning of the formulation of the Community Strategic Framework (CSF) 2016-2020, a successor plan to the RSP.

The experts will deliberate on how to harmonize and integrate the CSF (2016-2020) into national plans towards the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 of a citizen-oriented community.

“Implementation of the Regional Strategic Plan comes to an end in 2015. There is need to commence the preparation of a successor plan. Lessons from the implementation of the RSP and changes in both the internal and external environment suggest that this new plan be formulated as a CSF for the period 2016-2020," said  Essien.

“This successor plan, beyond the coverage of the RSP, will provide overall direction with respect to community goals, set out principles of engagement with stakeholders and provide guidance to community institutions/agencies in the design and preparation of their strategic plans,” he added.

Established in 1975, as a regional economic bloc model after the European Union(EU), ECOWAS central goal is to integrate and achieve high degree of cooperation among its members.

But, experts query why in the EU decisions reached at the regional level find their way into national decision-making processes, while those taken by ECOWAS and other regional integration groupings hardly feed into national policies and plans.

The immediately available explanation is that in many occasions, the domestication of regional agreements into national plans and budgets are done on ad hoc basis.

National priorities often take precedence over regional priorities in both programme planning and budgetary allocations.

These, many experts believe, were some of the challenges facing the organisation. Their hope is that at the end of the meeting, the identified gap will be filled and a more robust regional development plan can be harmonised with national goals to reduce poverty, create jobs and wealth for the close to 400 million population of the sub-region.
-0- PANA SB/AR 18Feb2015

18 february 2015 18:00:33

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