Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghef, president of the Opposition National Pact for Democracy and Development (NPSD/ADIL) and former Prime Minister (2008-2009), has made a passionate appeal for the return of Mauritania to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ).
He made his plea in a lengthy article published Wednesday by the weekly “Biladi “.
A country straddling the Maghreb and West Africa, Mauritania signed the treaty establishing the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) on 17 February, 1989 , and is a founding member of ECOWAS from which it withdrew in 2000.
Waghef said the decision to withdraw from ECOWAS was a big mistake, saying that the mistake will have to be corrected quickly, because “we have the right to belong simultaneously to two sub-regional organizations (ECOWAS and AMU).”
He said “Belonging to two regional groupings would also facilitate the process of integration of these two sub-regions. In addition, we left ECOWAS but AMU has never existed beyond the official discourse.”
Of the 54 African countries, 27 are members of two regional groupings, 18 belong to three groupings and one country is a member of four groupings,” he recalled.
“Being a member of the regional economic communities (RECs) of West Africa and the Maghreb would be a major asset to our economy and is likely to help the country speed up its economic and social development.”
The integration in these markets would indeed enable our economy to overcome the structural problems facing it and strengthen its productive capacity.
“Faced with globalization, the goal of integration has become a priority to avoid marginalization,” he said, adding that ECOWAS is a dynamic organization with a brilliant future with 15 Member States, a market of 300 million inhabitants, a Gross domestic product (GDP) of about US$ 600 billion, making the sub-region the 25th global economy and a growth rate of over 6% over recent years.
The article also noted that the last summit of ECOWAS held in October 2013 in Dakar, laid the foundations for a genuine West African common market with a common external tariff as from January 2015.
The former Mauritanian Prime Minister also mentioned the many structuring investments in infrastructure for integration within the West African region.
These include highways, rail loop, the interconnected electricity network, ports, the west African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), fiscal convergence of WAEMU standards, OMVS projects, and the Nouakchott/Saint-Louis power line, the project aimed at producing electricity from gas.
He said: “These are so many reasons which make ECOWAS a natural partner for Mauritania which would as a result benefit from a large market to achieve its economic ambitions.”