Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - ECOWAS and Venezuela have agreed to take measures to implement their 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) towards the elimination of malaria in West Africa, the West African regional bloc said in a statement here Friday.
Under the MoU, which was signed during the first high-level ministerial visit to Venezuela, the South American country agreed to provide US$ 20 million to support an ECOWAS vector control programme of malaria elimination through biolarvidicing.
Biolarvicides are sprayed on the habitats of mosquitoes to eliminate their larvae, one of the stages in the evolution of mosquitoes.
During the just-concluded second high-level ministerial visit comprising the Health Ministers of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria and led by ECOWAS Vice President, Dr Toga Mcintosh, both parties agreed that the MoU be renegotiated and approved by a high-level ministerial meeting to be organized by the ECOWAS Commission with the health ministers from Cuba, Venezuela and the three West African countries.
Included in the delegation were the Vice President of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), the Director of Private Sector of the ECOWAS Commission, the Health Advisor to the President of the ECOWAS Commission and Malaria Programme Managers from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria which will host the three regional manufacturing facilities for the production of the biolarvicides.
The offer of renegotiation was included in an MoU, to be signed in the aftermath of the second visit by the high-level ECOWAS ministerial delegation to Venezuela. Under the arrangement, it was agreed that ECOWAS should submit a project proposal as well as technical and financial feasibility reports by July 2012 to the Government of Venezuela.
The three documents are expected to be approved during the third high-level ministerial meeting to be hosted in December 2012 by West Africa and to be attended by officials from ECOWAS, Cuba and Venezuela.
The ECOWAS delegation also agreed to ensure that sites for the factories are finalized with the Governments of Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire and foundation stones laid by December 2012.
The 2009 MoU has provisions for the establishment of a multilateral fund to promote and finance projects mainly in the health, education, food, mining, environment, agriculture, energy and infrastructure sectors.
A working group drawn from the two parties is expected to meet in July 2012 to initiate the activities and work schedule for its establishment as well as prepare a project proposal to be approved during the next high-level meeting to be hosted by West Africa in December 2012.
The impending MoU also involves a capacity building component under which graduate and post-graduate scholarships will be awarded to ECOWAS citizens for study in Venezuela which will be responsible for tuition, boarding and lodging for each student who will also get a grant in the form of salary during the period.
The ECOWAS Commission or Member States will have responsibility for the travel expenses of the beneficiaries, the statement indicated.
The ECOWAS Commission is expected, as part of the MoU, to sign an aide memoire with Banco del ALBA and BANDES under which both institutions will buy into the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID); lend funds directly to EBID for project financing; participate in co-financing of projects with EBID in the region; establish and manage a fund for the Malaria Elimination Programme; as well as organize investment and trade promotion fora to allow for the identification of new projects for joint financing by both sides.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 27April2012