Banjul (The Gambia), 11 November 2021 - The Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (SRO-WA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of The Gambia launched on Wednesday, in Banjul, in hybrid format, the 24th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) for West Africa on the theme "Leveraging the Implementation of the AfCFTA to Build Resilient and Sustainable Economies in West Africa in the Covid-19 Era ".
This 24th session is held in a context where the socio-economic space in Africa has been affected by the emergence and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic with the start of trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021.
The objective of the meeting is to discuss how recent changes have affected the economic and social development of West African countries. In particular, the meeting will seek to identify the inherent strengths and resilience of the West African economies to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges, opportunities as well as the strategic pathways towards building a more resilient and sustainable development, by exploiting the many opportunities of the AfCFTA.
In his opening statement, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of The Gambia, Honourable Mambury Njie, said that : «I want to challenge all participants in this very important meeting to critically discuss the specific policy issues with a view to coming up with sound policy recommendations for the sub-region" ».
Honourable Mambury Njie goes on to say, « It is crucial that concerted efforts are taken at the regional and sub-regional level to eliminate the Technical Barriers to Trade, educate the teaming youthful population, in relevant areas such as STEM, and importantly address the transport and connectivity problems».
The Executive Secretary of ECA, Dr Vera Songwe said “One of the things that AfCFTA will be working on is to see that they provide more assistance to get the economy back on track”.
“We have done a lot and now we have the ability to converge the African Ministers of Finance to provide the sources leaded to implement AfCFTA programmes", added Dr Vera Songwe.
The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in The Gambia, Seraphine Wakana said that “the choice of the theme of the 24th ICE for West Africa is timely as countries must take full advantage of the blessing in disguise that COVID19 presents in the form of innovative repositioning of opportunities and ideas, the AfCFTA is one glaring example for the West African sub-region”.
This meeting was preceded by an Expert group meeting which was also organized in Banjul on hybrid format on 9 November 2021, on the theme « Policy dialogue on ECA Sub regional Office for West Africa’s Key Regional Initiatives ».
The 24th ICE session was attended by delegates from the 15 West African States, as well as senior representatives and experts from ECOWAS, WAEMU, the Mano River Union (MRU), and other Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) of the sub-region. In addition to ECA, other agencies of the United Nations system contributed to the success of the meeting, notably the Resident Country Coordination Office of the United Nations system in The Gambia, as well as other development partners and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
For more information, please contact: Tahirou Gouro, Communication Officer, ECA- SRO/ WA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org