PRESS RELEASE

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE

Year 2012 Selected
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En Français
N°: 317/2012
17 November 2012 [Abuja - Nigeria]

ECOWAS WORKING WITH PARTNERS TO IMPROVE BUSINESS CLIMATE IN WEST AFRICA

							
	ECOWAS is partnering with the International Finance Corporation and the 
European Union to implement a programme for the improvement of the business 
environment in the region, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His 
Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo has assured.

“This will cover the development of a regional investment policy, finalisation 
of a regional investment code, the implementation of a regional investment 
policy monitoring platform developed jointly by the African Union (AU) and the 
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO,” the president told 
a Global Banking and Investment Forum, organized in London on 6th November 
2012, by the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI).

West Africa is associated with a difficult business and investment environment 
accentuated by poverty, infrastructure deficit, policy deficiency and 
political governance issues.

In the speech to the Forum, delivered on his behalf by the ECOWAS Director of 
Private Sector, Mr. Alfred Braimah, President Ouedraogo said: “The future 
looks much brighter now given the level of political will of the Heads of 
State and Government and the full support of the development partner community 
to assist the ECOWAS Commission and the Member States to address the business 
climate challenges at the National and Regional Level through the development 
of the right policy frameworks.”

With a population of some 300 million people and GDP of US$ 316 billion, the 
ECOWAS region accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population, but only 0.5% of 
the world’s GDP.  President Ouedraogo however noted that this is also 
changing, with a projected 5% annual growth rate in GDP for the region.

“Despite the enormous challenges, there is great opportunity for growth and 
development within the ECOWAS Region,” he said.  “Also, potential returns on 
investment are extremely attractive and more than commensurate for the level 
of business risk.”

“It is worth stating,” he said: “that three out of the 40 African Challengers 
(global business competitors) identified by the Boston Consulting Group are in 
the ECOWAS region.” These are ECOBANK, the Dangote Group and UBA.

With ongoing programmes under the ECOWAS Common Investment Market Initiative, 
the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and Common External Tariff, the 
Common ECOWAS Passport and Visa initiative, the President said “there is a 
large untapped market but only those who are bold to invest notwithstanding 
the difficulties will reap the benefits.”

But while “much improvement can be achieved through the effort of a single 
country,” he explained that “there are challenges that are better addressed at 
regional level, especially given that most of countries share the same 
challenge that their laws and regulations are outdated and require updating to 
be at par with the current international best practices, and that a regional 
approach may also encourage regional integration.”

To this end, the President said the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and 
Government have adopted a number of protocols to promote regional integration 
through business and investment promotion. Among them is the Supplementary Act 
on Investment Rules and approved a framework developed by the Commission for 
the preparation of a Community Investment Code. 

He told the forum that work on the draft code has been completed and the draft 
Community Investment Policy will be completed in 2013. 

In addition, a Competitions Act has been adopted by the Authority and the 
Commission is in the process of establishing a Competitions Board and regional 
and national councils for the ECOWAS Common Investment Market.

In the area of policy and key programmes, the President said the Authority 
have also approved a number of texts which are at various stages of 
implementation. These include the ECOWAS Common Agriculture Programme 
(ECOWAP) - to address the chronic food security challenges; the West African 
Common Industrial and Quality Policies; Various policies on Energy including 
renewable energy which sets the platform for the attraction of private sector 
investments on IPP and PPP basis; and the Policy on the Environment.

In compliance with the directive of regional leaders, the Commission is also 
stepping up efforts to develop infrastructure in the region with emphasis on 
Road, Air and Rail Transport, Energy with a focus on renewable energy and 
energy distribution. 

The Commission has also commenced the construction of a number of joint border 
posts to provide for a one-stop customs, immigration clearance of people and 
goods between Member States. This is to enable the region to fully leverage 
the benefits of having a common customs goods clearance platform (ASYCUDA) 
developed by ECOWAS and implemented by all Member States.

To address issues of political risk, studies have been concluded on the need 
to establish an Investment Guarantee/Reinsurance Agency, while the region is 
in the process of finalising a strategic framework document for private sector 
development with a focus on the development of Small and Medium Enterprises 
(SMEs).


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