Nigeria: EU commits Euros 40m to ECOWAS projects for economic integration

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) – The European Union has committed  Euros 40 million (US $60 million) to the launch of two projects aimed at achieving economic integration and attracting private sector investments in West African states, it was officially announced here Wednesday.

The two projects, primarily targeted at creating jobs for youths and promoting "made in West Africa" products, are being undertaken in collaboration with the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), the World Bank, West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

EU Head of Cooperation in Abuja, Brian O'nei said at the launch of the projects at the ECOWAS headquarters that it was important to create jobs for the youths in order to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.

"Dependence on oil cannot be sustained in view of the crashing oil price. Nigeria is a very important part of West Africa, so we need to ensure economic growth and jobs creation. We need to promote 'Made in Nigeria' and 'Made in West Africa' products; and the quality and pricing must be right," he said.

Emphasizing the need for promoting production of finished goods locally,  O'nei added that it was important to help West Africa migrate from the current position of trade whereby the countries export raw materials and import finished products.

UNIDO Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Dr Patrick Kormawa said that the two projects are about people, peace and prosperity for West Africa.

"The projects will aim at removing trade barriers within West Africa, harmonise standards and make products produced in the member states acceptable throughout the region and to the external world", he said.

On its part, the World Bank will manage resources for implementation of the projects and facilitate cross-border investment in the region.

World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Marie-Francoise, said that the bank will also work to regulate pricing of products and ensure that regional infrastructure is put in place.

She stated that the Lagos-Abidjan highway will be implemented to ensure easy movement of goods while the bank would also monitor the seaports and land borders for better facilitation of trade within the region.

Meanwhile, ECOWAS Commission President Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo explained the reason for such investment in West Africa, stating that the region needed to grow its economy beyond the single digit of 7 percent to double digits.

"We need to promote investments, allow citizens move freely, encourage private sector and remove trade barriers. We also have to coordinate our actions closely. We need a lot of capacity building in member states", he said.

He reiterated West Africa's political commitment to driving the two projects and commended the leadership of the Heads of State and Government for the free movement of persons and goods in the implementation of the Trade Liberalisation Schemes as well as the provision of quality regional infrastructure.
-0- PANA MON/AR 26Nov2014

26 novembre 2014 16:56:36

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