Niger President elected ECOWAS Chairman
Accra, Jan. 19, GNA - The 28th Ordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra on Wednesday elected President Mamadou Tandja of Niger as the Chairman of the Sub-Regional Body. He replaces President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, who served two terms from 2003 to 2004. The Summit commended President Kufuor for his sterling leadership qualities. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who made commendation on behalf of his colleagues, said: "I wish to express the appreciation of all the members of ECOWAS to you for a successful two-year tenure of committed, dedicated and purposeful leadership as Chairman of the Authority.
"During the period of your Chairmanship, some of the intractable conflicts in our region were addressed. The Liberian conflict was resolved here in Accra under your guidance and we are now witnessing great progress in the implementation of the Accra Comprehensive peace Agreement on C=F4te d'Ivoire".
"We are also witnessing the return of Constitutional Order in Guinea-Bissau. If C=F4te d'Ivoire still continues to give us great concern, it has not been due to a lack of engagement on your part as ECOWAS Chairman. "Our Sub-Region has benefited immensely from your dedication and effective leadership these past two years of your Chairmanship". President Obasanjo, who is also the Chairman of the African Union (AU), said the return and restoration of relative peace to most parts of the Sub-Region following the successful management and resolution of some of the conflicts that disturbed the area, had started to give them respite and opportunities to the Regional Body. He said this had led to the Regional Body paying more attention to issues of economic development, poverty reduction, cooperation and integration programmes, which constituted the primary vision of the Founding Fathers of ECOWAS. President Obasanjo said with this new window of opportunity of relative peace, ECOWAS had taken advantage to initiate several programmes as part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) infrastructure projects aimed at cementing the destiny of their people for sustainable development in a hostile global environment. These programmes are the West African Power Pool Initiative and the West African Gas Pipeline Project, both of which are designed to provide affordable, qualitative and sustainable energy supply to every part of the Sub-Region to drive the engine of industrialisation, reduction of poverty, creation of jobs and to make the Sub-Region globally competitive.
President Obasanjo said other programmes in air, land and sea transport facilitation and linkages, telecommunication connectivity among ECOWAS states were also becoming realities while the promotion of intra-trade and movement of people and goods and services were recording appreciable successes despite isolated bottlenecks in their implementation stages.
"Relevant authorities in our respective countries are addressing such noted bottlenecks," he said.
The AU Chairman said the world was witnessing the repositioning of the ECOWAS Sub-Region to meet the challenges of rural poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, natural resources and environmental degradation through a new initiative of an Integrated ECOWAS Regional Agricultural Policy.
He explained that the new initiative was designed to improve the living conditions of the people especially the rural populations, sustenance of the industrialisation process through availability of quality raw materials and the resuscitation of peasant farm family alongside mechanised farms.
President Obasanjo said the issue of youth empowerment and repositioning of women for more effective participation in rural wealth generation constituted component of the new initiative and urged his colleagues to intensify their efforts to address youth unemployment, child trafficking, violent crimes and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. On democracy, the AU Chairman commended the people of Ghana and Niger for the success of their various elections last year and said; "the peaceful conduct of the elections in these two ECOWAS states and the smooth transitions depict positive signs of entrenchment of democratic ideals in our Sub-Region. "I wish to implore you my brothers to continue to cherish and uphold these ideals in support and sustenance of democracy, good governance, peace and social justice in our Sub-Region." Eleven Heads of State and Government of the Authority attended the Summit. They were, President Yahaya A.J. Jammeh of The Gambia; President Henrique Pereira Rosa of Guinea-Bissau; the African Union (AU) Chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Toumane Toure of Mali. The others were President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin; President Mamadou Tandja of Niger, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire; President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso; Mr Charles Gyude Bryant, Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) and the host, President Kufuor. Other representatives were Mr Solomon Berewa, Vice President of Sierra Leone and Mr Kofi Sama, Prime Minister of Togo. President Tandja calls for improved quality in agricultural production Accra, Jan.19, GNA - Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja on Wednesday called on leaders within ECOWAS to endeavour to improve on the quality and quantity of agricultural production within the Sub-Region. He said efforts should also be made to improve on the processing of agricultural produce to make them competitive on the global market. President Tandja made the call in his acceptance speech as the New Chairman of ECOWAS at the just-ended one-day 28th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the 15-member Sub-Regional body in Accra.
He succeeded President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana whose two-term tenure of office ended with the Summit.
President Tandja appealed to the leaders to go above mere slogans and make agriculture a priority programme through intensive actions that would promote agriculture and realise the objectives outlined in the approved Common Agricultural policy for the Sub-Region.
The policy is envisaged to ensure sustainable food security, the rational management of the Sub-Region's natural resources and decent remuneration for those engaged in agriculture.
On ECOWAS integration, President Tandja called for unity and co-operation among the members to fight the challenges ahead of them to promote political stability and appropriate monitoring of efforts that would bring peace and tranquillity to the Sub-Region.
He pledged to pursue efforts that would ensure peace and an end to the conflicts in the Sub-Region and apply the ethics of good neighbourliness and good relations.
President Tandja called on the factions in Cote d'Ivoire to look beyond their personal interests and make efforts to implement the Linus Marcoussis and the Comprehensive Accra III Agreement to bring peace to their country.
New ECOWAS Chairman calls for support Accra, Jan.19, GNA- The newly elected Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Mamadou Tandja of Niger on Wednesday appealed to leaders in the Sub-Region for their unflinching support during his one year tenure in office.
He said, " I count on your usual support in order that together in unity we could be able to face the challenge ahead and ensure the development of the Sub-Region through ECOWAS".
President Tandja made the call in his acceptance speech at the just-ended one-day 28th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS in Accra. He expressed appreciation to the leaders, especially his predecessor President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana whose second tenure in office ended with the Summit. President Tandja said President Kufuor performed well during his tenure and commended his efforts and exceptional performance to ensure progress within ECOWAS.
President Kufuor, who announced his successor said: " President Tandaj of Niger has been elected by consensus as the next Chairman of ECOWAS for a year."
He then vacated his seat and invited President Tandja to take over the proceedings.
The Summit, held behind closed doors was under very tight security. West African leaders okay mutual agricultural policy Accra, Jan. 19, GNA - Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS on Wednesday approved a common agricultural policy aimed at ensuring sustainable food security, the judicious management of the Sub-Region's vast natural resources and decent reward for those engaged in agriculture, the back-bone of West Africa's economy.
A press statement issued at the end of the 28th Summit of the Authority said the policy would also promote sustainable expansion in trade in agricultural products within and outside the region and further deploy it as a tool for poverty alleviation and employment. Eleven Heads of State and Government of the Authority, including President Yahaya A.J. Jammeh of The Gambia, President Henrique Pereira Rosa of Guinea-Bissau, the African Union (AU) Chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Toumane Toure of Mali attended the Summit.
The others were President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin, President Mamadou Tandja of Niger, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Mr Charles Gyude Bryant, Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) and the host, President Kufuor. Other representatives were Mr Solomon Berewa, Vice President of Sierra Leone and Mr Kofi Sama, Prime Minister of Togo.
The Statement said ECOWAS Ministers of Agriculture had already endorsed the policy, which was formulated in collaboration with relevant regional and international institutions at their Cotonou meeting, which was held on the 8th of January 2005.
The leaders also approved the revised Master Plan for improving electricity supply in their region through increased investment in generation and distribution and also a common regulatory regime. The regime is expected to regulate power trading, reduce the cost of generation and facilitate private sector participation in the energy sector.
The Master Plan, the statement said, envisaged the implementation of 14-priority transmission projects estimated at 1.3 billion US dollars under the West African Power Pool. It is expected that about 16 billion US dollars would be invested between 2004 and 2020 in power generation and transmission.
According to the statement, about nine billion dollars would be required for the first phase of the project, which would include the construction of identified new hydroelectric projects.