ECOWAS can fast-track development through innovations – Mahama
President John Dramani Mahama has urged ECOWAS member states to take advantage of innovations and technologies to develop inclusive business models that would harness the sub-region’s natural resources optimally for rapid socio-economic development.
He said this would serve as key inputs to the sub-region’s industrialisation process, powered by its endowments of clean sources of renewable energy, especially solar.
“It is important for West African countries to identify clear, consistent and coherent policies and interventions involving all key stakeholders to build partnerships and bridges,” President Mahama said in a speech read on his behalf by Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Minister of Trade and Industry, at the maiden ECOWAS Industrial Summit in Accra on Thursday.
“We can leverage on our limited public resources to mobilise investments from the private sector and from various sources in line with national priorities,” President Mahama said.
The summit was set in the context of the West Africa Common Industrial Policy with its main vision as maintaining a solid industrial structure which is globally competitive, environmentally-friendly and capable of significantly improving the living standards of the people by 2030.
Its objective is to accelerate the industrialisation and private sector development of West Africa.
President Mahama said the summit, on the theme: “Promoting Investment to Accelerate the Industrialisation of ECOWAS,” was appropriately linked with the Government’s transformation agenda which had its heart in improving livelihoods.
“Indeed, an accelerated and profound economic structural transformation, through reallocating economic activities from less productive to more productive sectors for sustainable and inclusive development, is the sure pathway to stem sub-regional poverty,” he said.
“For us to achieve real transformation, policy shifts and strategic changes in programme implementation patterns will be required across the sub-region.
“A focused approach in supporting key areas, such as the provision of electricity to impel industrialisation, curbing hunger and malnutrition, improvements in rural life, ensuring food self-sufficiency, as well as the expansion of basic social services, should be our current trail,” he said.
President Mahama said in that strive; ECOWAS should seek also to change the financing mechanisms that impeded the sub-regions industrial development.
“We need to convert some of our financial institutions from short term lenders for commercial transactions to long term financiers of industrial projects, especially those which add value to our natural resources,” he said.
President Mahama explained that in sync with this, an aggressive pursuit of industrialisation had become more compelling in shoring up and sustaining the sub-region’s growth trajectory.
“It is my belief that with carefully developed backward and forward linkages; our industrialisation effort has the potential to diversify Africa’s sub-regional economies.
“This will reduce the exposure of our economies to external shocks while providing decent jobs for our people,” he said.
Dr Spio-Garbrah, on his part, said the West Africa Common Industrial Policy demanded that countries responded to the specific and dynamic needs expressed by their manufacturing sectors with appropriately designed and targeted policies.
He said in order to reach such policy coherence, West African governments required strong industrial policy management capabilities in their endeavour to eliminate poverty.
Mr Marcel Alain de Souza, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, in a speech read on his behalf, said in order to ensure a vibrant sub-regional economy, there was the need for industrial co-operation among member states.
He said the West African Industrial Common Policy objective was to diversify and broaden the region’s industrial production base by progressively raising the local raw material processing rates from 15 to 20 per cent to an average of 30 per cent by 2030.