ECOWAS Economic Journalists End Workshop In Monrovia....call for increased engagement

Participants and facilitators pose fro photo
Participants and facilitators pose fro photo
Photo Credit: Public Affairs

Members of the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network have concluded another workshop, this time in Monrovia, Liberia. The three-day intensive workshop, the second since the birth of the Network in September, 2017 in the Senegalese Capital, Darkar, was held from Tuesday, February 5 to the 7, 2019, with a number of issues affecting the West African Sub-region, especially  how to fully operationalize  the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

 

 

The 2019 workshop was sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, through its West Africa Sub-regional Office. The opening session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa-sponsored workshop witnessed speeches from a number of stakeholders, including the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Liberia, Mr. Wilfred N. Bangura, ECA Acting Director for the   Office for West Africa, Mr. Dosso Bakary, and the ECOWAS Commissioner in Charge of Trade and Free Movement, Mr. Konzi Tei.

 

 

In his opening statement, Mr. Bakary, described the Monrovia meeting as an opportunity for all stakeholders to exchange and inform members of the network on the ins and outs of the AfCTA. He expressed the hope for members of the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network to be better equipped to inform the public and key stakeholders on the ongoing process of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

 

 

“As a matter of reminder, the agreement for the creation of the AfCTA was signed by 44 states and government in Kigali, in March 2018. The process of ratification of the agreement is underway with 18 ratifications out of the 22 expected for entry into force of the agreement, Mr. Bakary told the participants. He observed that out  of the 18 ratifications, nearly half are from West Africa (Ghana, Niger,Cote d’Ivore,  Guinea,Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal and Togo). Mr. Dosso Bakary hailed the ECOWAS Commissioner of Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Mr. Konzi Tei, for his effective contributions to the Monrovia Meeting. On behalf of the ECA, he also thanked the Liberian government for its support in organizing the sub-regional initiative.

 

 

Mr. Bakary pledged the ECA’s availability to assist and work along with relevant stakeholders for the social and economic development of the African Continent.

 

For his part, the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Liberia, Mr. Wilfred N.   Bangura commended the organizers of the workshop for selecting Liberia as the host country for the second training session for members of the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network. Mr. Bangura, deputizing for Commerce and Industry Minister, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, said the workshop was, in his believe, part of efforts by ECOWAS leaders and their partners across the Sub-region to strengthen engagements for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).  He welcomed the ongoing efforts to step up earlier appeals by African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Development for collaboration with the   ECA  on  various positives fronts, including the training for ECOWAS Economic Journalists.

 

 

The Deputy Commerce Minister for Administration expressed the hope that the initiative will boost the development of a responsible and stronger partnership with the media in the West African Sub-region for improved visibility and wider dissemination of information and issues relevant to the sub-region for economic and social development of ECOWAS member states.

Also taking the stage, the Director of Knowledge Management at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Lowel Wesley, commended previous speakers for their brilliant presentations. Mr. Wesely, in an overview of the African Continental Free Trade Area spoke about previous strides made to give birth to the AfCTA.

 

He said when heads of States form Africa met in Johannesburg in South Africa in 2016, the technical team on the AfCTA were given two years to complete the task.
He said the endorsement of the AfCTA in 2018 will undoubtedly give meaningful boost to Africa in the area of social and economic advancement. Making a point on behalf of Liberia’s Chief Trade Negotiator,(Commerce and Industry Minister, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh), Mr. Wesley said Liberia  is still determined to make progress despite the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis that affected  strategies that were in place  to move forward.

 

 

In his presentation, Mr. Wesley told the gathering that a lot of Liberians are involved in the informal sector, noting that efforts are ongoing to find solution to these challenges, including access to finance. He said Liberians have put in place several workable strategies that are intended to put the country in a better position on the global market.
During the Monrovia meeting, members of the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network commended the ECA- West Africa Sub-regional Office for the idea, which will help make the work of the SRO/WA visible.

 


They however called for increased engagements with stakeholders, at least twice a year so that the momentum does not die down, since the Network is new and taking into account the volume of work  members of the Network have to do.
The ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network was set up in 2017, to help highlight economic and environmental issues in the West African Sub-region.

 

 

By: Jacob N.B. Parley
Public Affairs Director
Ministry of Commerce and Industry.