ECOWAS seeks relief for Ebola-affected states

President MahamaPresident John Mahama has announced that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has put in a special appeal to development partners and the international donor community, to ‘forgive’ the debts of the most affected Ebola countries in the sub-region.

The debt write-off, the President explained, would enable the countries; Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to re-invest in the socio-economic sectors of their economies.

President Mahama made this known on Saturday, when he briefed the media on proceedings of the just-ended African Union Summit at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on his arrival at the Kotoka International Airport.

He said apart from the debt forgiveness, there was the need for recapitalisation of the affected countries.

The Ebola Virus Disease, which broke out in the three countries, with flashes in Nigeria and Mali had, over the past months, killed hundreds of people, affected thousands with its resultant destruction of the economies of the affected countries.

Apart from that, health, education, trade and commerce has taken a nosedive, while stigma had also risen in terms of investment in those countries, with job creation opportunities almost non-existent.

President Mahama observed that the affected countries had suffered a lot and, therefore, the ‘forgiveness’ of the debts would give them a breather to re-build their almost devastated economies to ensure investor confidence in their countries.

On the Boko Haram menace in Northern Nigeria and parts of Cameroun, President Mahama said, the AU Peace and Security Council had tabled and approved the proposal to set up a regional force with 7,500 troops to degrade and neutralise the terrorist activities..

He said a follow-up meeting to fashion out modalities of the force would be held in Yaounde, Cameroun, this week, adding that, Chad had already given its support in terms of contributing troops to fight the menace in Cameroun.

President Mahama said the Peace and Security Council also presented reports on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Northern Mali, and the updates were considered to find lasting solutions to the conflicts in the affected areas.

Touching on free trade, the President said Ghana was chairing the high level continental free trade committee, and gave the assurance that all countries in the sub-region were working around the clock to meet their 2017 continental free trade target, where there would be common tariffs and free flow of commercial activities throughout the continent.

President Mahama announced that, Ghana’s Daniel Batidam was elected as one of the 11members of the AU Anti-Corruption Committee, and reiterated his pledge that everything possible would be done to eliminate the canker on the continent and Ghana.

While at the summit, President Mahama chaired a meeting of the AU High Level Committee on African Trade, which adopted a number of decisions including the implementation of a Continental Free Trade Area, and a Short-Term Plan for boosting intra-African trade.

As Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments, he hosted a meeting of the sub-region at the AU Commission.

President Mahama also granted audience to the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ms. Linda Thomas Greenfield, and held bilateral talks which centred on technical and economic co-operation with the President of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca.

On the margins of the summit, Ghana and South Sudan signed a co-operation agreement in the areas of trade, education, health, agriculture, mining and technical co-operation.

By Samuel Nuamah      

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