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ECOWAS member states tasked on regional industrial policy

The ECOWAS Commission has charged trade, industry and private sector experts, in conjunction with other stakeholders, to sensitize and mobilize member states on the need to speed up the implementation of the West Africa Common Industrial Policy (WACIP), adopted in July 2010.

Opening a three-day regional Symposium on WACIP in Lome, Togo, on Wednesday, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs, Industry and Mines, Tourism and Free Movement, Mr. Hamid Ahmed, said the sensitization and mobilization were necessary to ensure buy-in and attract the required foreign investment for industrial development in the region.

“Industrialization is not an easy ride,” an ECOWAS Commission statement quoted the Commissioner as saying, adding that a number of challenges and risks were involved.

He urged public and private sector entrepreneurs and other actors in member states to make the necessary sacrifices and take reasonable risks so as to make the region competitive in the global market through the implementation of WACIP.

In this regard, Commissioner Ahmed reaffirmed the Commission’s support to member states and other stakeholders, especially itinerant traders and entrepreneurs.

On his part, Mr. Dieudonnee Adjogah, who represented the Lome-based Federation
of West Africa Employers Organizations (FOPAO/FWAEO), said the economies of member states cannot take off effectively without industrialization.

According to him, industrialization will add value to the region’s abundant raw materials, and that West Africa was fast becoming a zone of quality production.

ECOWAS member states, he said, should therefore brace themselves for effective competition in the globalized market.

Mr. Adjogah also laid emphasis on agriculture, given the region’s comparative advantage in the sector, noting, however, that a number of countries in the region faced many challenges, especially on land use issues, which sometimes hinder development of agri-business and agro-industrialization.

He urged the symposium participants to address these and other obstacles to boost industrial growth and development in the region, and that they should also come up with strong recommendations to the regional authorities to make WACIP a reality.

Earlier, ECOWAS Director of Industry and Mines Mensan Lawson-Hechelli said the major objectives of WACIP include diversifying and broadening the region’s industrial production base by progressively raising local raw material processing rate from 15-20% to over 30% by 2030, through support for the creation of new industrial production capacity, and increasing the manufacturing industries contribution to the regional GDP, which is currently at an average of 6-7%, to an average of over 20%.

Other objectives include to progressively increase intra-Community trade in West Africa from less than 12% to 40% by 2030, with a 50% share of the region’s trade in manufacturing goods particularly in the area of energy, as well as increasing the volume of exports of goods manufactured in the region to the global market from the current 0.1% to at least 1% by 2030.

The Director explained that the implementation of WACIP would complement other regional initiatives such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme and the Common External Tariff aimed at fast-tracking West Africa’s industrial and economic development.

The regional symposium, which ends with a ministerial session on Friday, seeks to mobilize national and community stakeholders towards effective implementation of the WACIP.

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