ECOWAS, Germany to explore youth access to finance

marcelECOWAS and the Federal Republic of Germany are to consolidate the progress made so far in the greater integration of the West African region.

The regional block and Germany are also to explore ways to close the ravaging poverty gap in the region, create an enabling environment for the youth to have access to finances and jobs and stem the tide of irregular migration to Europe.

These emerged during the talks that were held at the ECOWAS Commission when the German Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza last week as part of his working visit.

Welcoming Minister Steinmeier and his delegation to the open forum after a closed door session, President De Souza expressed gratitude for the support that the German government has been giving to ECOWAS.

He remarked that ECOWAS would be able to consolidate the progress made in its integration programmes such as free movement of goods, persons and services, peace and security.

He proposed the setting up of the ECOWAS-Germany Summit.

President De Souza said there was a critical need to balance the demographic growth in West Africa with economic growth so that the progress being made in the latter dimension would be meaningful.

The president also expressed concerns over the situation where there was presently an average of 3 per cent demographic growth rate while economic growth rate is just about 4 per cent.

In this regard, he noted that poverty would not be reduced in the region of 320 million if the economic growth does not get as far as 7 to 8 per cent over the next two decades.

“And as long as we cannot have economic development, our youth will keep migrating to other regions. We need to sensitise our people that we need to take a good control of our families in terms of birth control,” he said.

On the EPA also, President De Souza assured inquiring journalists at the occasion that progress is being made to get the two remaining countries within ECOWAS to sign the agreement.

He noted that the fears raised which had to do with dumping and the protection of the West Africa market is taken care of by the provision in the agreement for a gradual opening of the West African market as well.

He said there exists also the possibility of revising some provisions of the agreement if over a period of 20 years certain fallouts were found to be harmful to the health of the economies of West Africa.

Mr. Steinmeier restated at the meeting, that cooperation with ECOWAS and other regional organisations in Africa was a priority to Germany in recognition of the fact that investment and trade continues to be an important factor to economic development as well as being an engine room for job creation.

He expressed the hope that the coming into Force of the Economic Partnership Agreement would lead to economic progress and that all ECOWAS member states will create the conditions for the agreement to enter into force soon in the spirit of partnership.

 

 By Times Reporter

 

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