Niamey, 05 February 2015 (ECA) - On March 18-19, 2015, the King Fahd Hotel in Dakar, Senegal will host the 18th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) of the 15 Member states of West Africa and their strategic partners on the theme, “Towards a structural transformation of the economies of the West African sub-region through the development of infrastructures”.
The choice of this theme follows the Economic Report on Africa 2014, prepared by the ECA in collaboration with the African Union Commission, entitled, “Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa: Innovative Institutions, Effective Processes and Flexible Mechanisms”which, among other things, criticized the dangers of high economic growth that is not accompanied by industrial development and structural transformation andadvocatedsetting up the modern infrastructure and logistics required for industrialization.
The objectives assigned to this meeting will enable the Member states of the ECOWAS and other organizations working in West Africa to examine the quantitative and qualitative evolution of infrastructures as well as their capacity to contribute to the development of the free-trade zone and the structural transformation of the economies of the sub-region. The meeting will discuss the issues and challenges which the sub-region is facing in its efforts to promote the development, financing and evaluation of infrastructure projects and theoptimization of their contributions to the structural transformation of economies. The session also aims at preparing the sub-region toconsolidate its competitivity in the framework of the future continental African Free-Trade Zone (AFTZ) planned for 2017.
The18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for West Africa alsoaims atpromoting the developmentof infrastructures in the key sectors of transportation, energy, new information and communication technologies (NICT) and the development of banking in order to accelerate regional integration,strengthen economic growth and effectively reduce poverty.
In effect, the development of infrastructures would make it possible to strengthen competitivity, industrialization and economic diversification and at the same time wouldfacilitate economic integration. Efficient transportation infrastructures could also improve the delivery of and access to basic social services, such as health and education,and could make it possible for citizens to actively participate in the labor market. Trade among the ECOWAS Member countriesremains low, as in the rest of the African continent, but it could be facilitated and improved by the availability of quality infrastructures.
Also to be debated on the agenda of this 18th ICEwill be the annual review of the report, “Socio-economic profile of West Africa in2014 and the outlook for 2015” and progress reports on the implementation of the Programme of Work for 2014 of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa as well as the upcoming Programme of Work for 2015. The meeting will also address progress made in the implementation of action plans at the regional and international levels, in particular progress and the outlook for the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda in West Africa as well as the contributions of other development partners.
Discussions which will be conducted during the meeting as well as the related recommendations will undoubtedly lead the fifteen countries of West Africa and their strategic partners to undertake strong commitments to accelerate the development of infrastructures by strengthening incentives and coordinationin support of the development of the free-trade zone and by improving collaboration among the ECOWAS, the WAEMU and other intergovernmental organizations in the promotion of infrastructures and regional integration.
These deliberations will enable Member states, economic communities and other strategic partners to become more closely involved in the work of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa and to find solutions for the main transversal obstacles that heavily affect the development of West African infrastructures, including the issues of financing, governance and capacity-building.
It should be noted that the 18th edition of the ICE for West Africa will be preceded, on March 16-17, 2015, by the Ad Hoc Meeting of the Group of Experts on the theme, “Integration infrastructures and their impact on the sub-regional free-trade zonein West Africa”.