Thursday, November 19, 2015 11:11 pm
The U.S. government and ECOWAS on Thursday , in Abuja, signed a 221 million-dollar (approx. N43.6 billion) agreement to promote security and development in the region over the next five years.
The Regional Development Objectives Grant Agreement was signed by Amb. Kadré Ouedraogo, President, ECOWAS Commission and Mr Alex Deprez, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) West Africa Regional Mission Director.
The agreement is expected to enhance partnership between both parties in promoting peace and security, health, trade and also to address energy challenges in the region.
In his address, Ouedraogo noted that the objectives of the agreement were in line with priority goals of sustainable development in West Africa.
He pledged the commitment of the ECOWAS Commission to facilitate implementation of the objectives of the agreement.
“The Regional Development Objectives Grant Agreement addresses the challenges our region is facing today such as extremism, economic development, health systems and infrastructure.
“The objectives are in line with the ECOWAS vision, particularly, strengthening and management of conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy, building resilience, ensuring good health system and a broad-based economic growth in West Africa.
“I believe that, in the next five years, this agreement will give us an opportunity to benefit from the experience of the United States in strengthening economic, democratic and health institutions in the region.
“I would like to reiterate the commitment of the commission to ensure the implementation of the regional development objectives agreement.
“I am confident that with the same spirit the USAID will take all necessary steps towards its implementation; ECOWAS appreciates your continued support in that regard,’’ he said.
The ceremony also launched new activities which would enhance effective response mechanism in member states under the U.S. Early Warning and Response Partnership (EWARP) projects.
The ECOWAS Commission president emphasised that there was a need to “bridge the gap between alert and response’’ and enhance capacities of members states in crises management and resolution.
“Efforts are being made to ensure the decentralisation of the system in member states by putting in place National Centres for the Coordination of the Response Mechanism,’’ Ouedraogo said.
In his address, the USAID representative reiterated that the agreement would increase regional stability and reduce potentials for conflicts in the future.
Deprez explained that the new projects would build on the successes of earlier projects that had existed between both parties in the last 10 years.
“The first is a five-year project, `Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data in West Africa (REWARD)’.
“Under REWARD, the U.S. Government will provide assistance to the ECOWAS goal of reducing the risk of violence across West Africa.
“The project will work closely with three ECOWAS Directorates, the Early Warning, political Affairs and Peacekeeping and Regional Security.
“In addition to REWARD, another U.S. Government project under EWARP is “Mitigating Electoral Violence through National Early Warning Systems known as NEWS.
“NEWS is a five-year activity implemented by the West Africa Network for Peace building in four target countries and will contribute to mitigating electoral violence in the region.
“These new projects address reforms based on lessons learned which ECOWAS has proposed in order to improve the quality of early warning and early response to conflict,’’ he said.
Deprez said that the projects would support the strengthening and establishment of National Early Warning Centres in member states and provide training and capacity building opportunities for members of staff.
The USAID representative commended the efforts of the leadership of member states in adopting programmes that would promote peace and security in the region.