To address the 12 and 15% of intra-regional trade across Africa, the Economic Community of West African State Commission has concluded plans to train 60 regional journalists from the private and public sectors to beat nearly 70% of Europe’s trade record.

A statement signed by Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA Ag. Director – Trade of the ECOWAS Commission today November 23, 2022, reviewed that there are many factors responsible for the low volume of intraregional trade despite the series of trade protocols and agreements signed by the ECOWAS Member States.

According to the statement, a lack of awareness of Community texts, rights, and obligations governing intra-regional trade by private sector actors, women traders’ networks, and organizations often makes them vulnerable to officers on corridors and at borders, thus fostering corruption through illegal taxation and as well bridged trust between actors and official agents.

The commission is certain that building a strong potential of regional trade in West Africa in line with the TFWA Result Area 3, will enhance the efficient and effective movement of goods in the region.

“The West African region is marked by the acceleration of the implementation of certain integration policies such as the new ECOWAS Customs Code, the introduction of the new text of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), and the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) by most ECOWAS Member States. Both the political authorities of the region and the actors and stakeholders are showing renewed interest in deepening regional integration. Following the observation of the ineffectiveness of the application of most of the texts governing the free movement of goods and persons as well as the incompleteness of the reforms to be carried out at national and regional levels, the actors have to be mobilized, through various projects and programs, to strengthen regional markets, expand and facilitate trade within the region and internationally.

“The complexity and inaccessibility of Community texts. Many outdated but not repealed texts are still invoked in some countries. In others, new regulations are not sufficiently disseminated and shared to be known by users and private sector actors.

“Awareness of the TFA and the AfCFTA is limited across all sectors in the ECOWAS Member States. Improved knowledge can aid the effective and prompt implementation by the public sector, utilization by the private sector, and monitoring and evaluation by civil society, academia, and the media.
“Therefore, the successful implementation of the TFA and the AfCFTA relies heavily on a good communication system that should contribute to informing and sensitizing all actors in the economy and society, in an approach that is both participatory and inclusive, with the ultimate objective of ensuring their ownership of these Agreements.

“The ECOWAS Commission is convinced that access to up-to-date information by journalists on the TFA and the AfCFTA is essential to the success of these Agreements. The role of the media, and specifically of journalists is critical to make progress in the areas of trade and integration developments.”

To implement the set target and with support from GIZ, The planned date for the regional training of journalists on the TFA and the AfCFTA is on 29th November – 3rd December 2022 in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the English-speaking Member States and the first group of French-speaking Member States (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Togo), as the training for the second group of French-speaking Member States (Guinea, Mali, Senegal) and Portuguese-speaking countries (Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau) will be held from 7th – 11th November 2022 in Dakar, Republic of Senegal.

This training is expected to take place concurrently in two (2) rooms in the same venue where participants will be distributed according to their language to ease a full understanding of the training, aimed at contributing towards building a network of trade journalists across the ECOWAS region while introducing them to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in order to facilitate their reportage on TFA and AfCFTA issues.


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