EBID President calls for support for SMEs to enhance regional economic integration

The President of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment, Dr George Agyekum Donkor, has called for the implementation of measures to give companies, especially small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), a modicum of predictability and certainty when entering international transactions.

He said regional economic integration would not be successful unless the legal challenges posed by doing business across countries, which were making it difficult for the sub-region to attract investments, were resolved.

“The legal framework rests at the core of business risk calculations, making it a key factor in the success of business initiatives and in the long-term, economic growth, and it is imperative that we develop solutions to the issues that plague it,” DrDonkor said.

DrDonkor was speaking at an International Conference being hosted by the ECOWAS Court of Justice at Praia, Cape Verde to discuss the legal climate in the community.

The virtual and in-person conference, which opens in Praia from Monday, May 9, 2022, is being held on the theme: “ECOWAS Integration model: The legal implications of Regionalism, Sovereignty and Supranationalism,” will enable a panel of discussants consisting of jurists and scholars from ECOWAS Member States, ECOWAS institutions, International Organisations and Development partners to discuss the theme under seven sub themes.

The conference is intended to provide a platform to critically examine the legal environment for the implementation of the regional integration agenda including the impact of regionalism, supranationalism and national sovereignties of the Member States on the integration process.

DrDonkor said while it had been difficult historically to coordinate enforcement of judgements against debtors operating in multiple jurisdictions, the situation was further compounded by the unwillingness of some local authorities to apply principles espoused by the Community Court of Justice.

“Although EBID manoeuvres within the confines of the existing legal framework, with the assistance of well-vetted local counsel for loan recovery purposes, the gaps in the general legal infrastructure adversely impact the sub-region’s ability to attract investment,” he said.

DrDonkor called on stakeholders to consider framing treaties and existing protocols as tools to fast-track regional integration, especially amidst efforts to promote trade within the framework of The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

They must also champion initiatives that further incentivise countries to refer cases to the Community Court, especially those involving international plaintiffs and to concretise of efforts to equip local courts to enforce judgements by the ECOWAS Court of Justice through legislations in the various jurisdictions across the ECOWAS Member States.

DrDonkor also urged member states to be persuaded of the value of supranational policies and structures to promote cooperation and economic development.  – GNA

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