ECOWAS Commission and the World
Bank recently concluded a high-level
consultation event on Regional Integration
as a possible catalyst to reignite Africa’s
economic growth engine. The meeting
which took place in Abuja, Nigeria also
assessed whether West Africa is currently
reaping the full benefits of integration.
The discussion was part of a series of
consultations the World Bank Group is
organizing across the continent on its
new Regional Integration & Cooperation
Assistance Strategy. The World Bank has
current commitments of over $10 billion in
support of regional integration programs
in Sub-Saharan Africa and plans to scaleup
support over the next three years.
Welcoming the new World Bank
strategy, ECOWAS Commission
President, H.E. Marcel De Souza affirmed
that it is well aligned to the priorities
of the ECOWAS Commission and its
member States especially the focus on
priority economic corridors, energy,
promoting agricultural value chains,
and education and skills development.
“ECOWAS is a leader on several aspects of
regional integration, but our people want
to see removal of further barriers. The
prize is big – when we allow greater intra-
Africa trade in agriculture we can avoid
a massive spike in our food import bill
while also giving better incomes for our
farmers and allowing the food processing
industry to create new jobs. The focus on
priority economic corridors, energy and
promoting agricultural value chains all
resonate with what we want to do,” De
Souza said.
“Our new strategy will soon be
discussed by our Board and it is aimed
to support the second and thirdgeneration
integration efforts. For
example, we have committed over $5
billion in financing regional energy
infrastructure and now is the right time
to focus on building the legal, regulatory
and risk financing arrangements so
that the West Africa Power Pool can
gain the full confidence of the selling
and buying countries. This could be
instrumental in helping unlock the huge
power generation capacity in the region
and rapidly improve access to energy,”
said Rachid Benmessaoud, World
Bank Country Director for Nigeria and
Coordinating Director for West Africa
Regional Integration Program. Both
sides agreed to further deepen the
dialogue and collaboration on regional
integration and align their efforts.

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