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06.01.2006 General News

ECOWAS leaders to meet in Niamey

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Accra, Jan.6, GNA - Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, on Thursday January 12.

The summit will consider proposals for the transformation of the Executive Secretariat into a Commission and re-appointing the Executive Secretary, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas for a second four-year term, officials say.

The 29th summit would also elect a Chairman for the regional grouping, Dr Adrienne Diop, head of the ECOWAS Communication Department, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA). "There are indications that the leaders may either re-elect President Mamadou Tandja of Niger and incumbent Chairman for a second term or give the position to the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh," an ECOWAS source told the GNA.

President Jammeh has expressed interest in the rotational chairmanship in the past four years.

Dr Diop said the leaders would decide on one of two scenarios proposed by the Executive Secretariat at the instance of the meetings of the ECOWAS Administration and Finance Commission and Council of Ministers held in Abuja in June 2005.

The first scenario proposes the transformation of the office of Executive Secretary into that of President to be assisted by a Vice President and seven commissioners while the second scenario calls for 13 commissioners.

The Heads of State will also consider the recommendations of the Council of Ministers on the report of a technical group on the harmonization of telecommunications services in the sub-region through the implementation of GSM Roaming and Cross-Border Connectivity programme.

At its January 2003 meeting in Dakar, the Council mandated the Executive Secretariat to explore the feasibility of establishing a region-wide GSM Roaming facility based on the use of a single SIM card in all Member States.

A subsequent study undertaken by the Executive Secretariat confirmed the technical and economic feasibility of cross-border connectivity but stressed Member States could only realize that this through substantial investment in requisite infrastructure.

Member States were also required to bridge identified gaps in inter-state links identified in the INTELCOM II programme. To this end, the report recommended that the embargo on the use of the Special Fund for Telecommunication (SFT) be lifted so that Member States could assess it for the construction of the uncompleted sections of the links.

The Summit will also approve the establishment of the organization for the West African Power Pool (WAPP) programme that will ensure the acceleration of the implementation of the priority projects under WAPP for which the World Bank has already approved 450 million dollars.