President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo has said that his country’s decision to save the sixth ECOWAS Trade Fair, by hosting it, is further demonstration of its commitment to the region’s integration project.
This year’s edition of the biennial Fair was awarded to Togo in the wake of the crisis that engulfed Cote d’Ivoire which won the original right to host the event.
“ECOWAS is dear to us and we are always willing to support the organization,” President Gnassingbe said on Thursday back home while receiving visiting ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho who was in Togo for the official launch of the publicity campaign for the fair.
The Togolese leader expressed optimism about the prospect of a successful hosting of the event from 25 November in Lome and used the opportunity to commend Ambassador Gbeho for his role in the resolution of the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.
Ambassador Gbeho briefed him on the just-concluded ECOWAS assessment mission to Cote d’Ivoire where the Commission’s delegation worked with government officials on how the regional organization can contribute towards addressing the country’s post-conflict challenges.
“We agreed on the three areas that require urgent attention,” he said of the mission, which identified the restoration of national security, particularly along the country’s borders with neighbouring Ghana, Liberia and Guinea.
Other areas of immediate concern were national reconciliation and the repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally-displaced persons.
Ambassador Gbeho also told the President that the Ivorian government was looking at ways of improving its internally-generated revenue through broadening the tax base in order to earn more revenue to address the challenges confronting the country.
He said ECOWAS was also shopping for foodstuffs for needy Ivorians and would introduce the government to the Chinese for contribution to infrastructure development within the context of an existing cooperation agreement between the region and Beijing.
Similar support has been extended to ECOWAS Member States — Guinea and Niger