The ECOWAS Commission has taken a new dimension to development and integration of the region by initiating the formulation of Community Development Programme (CDP), which puts greater emphasis to participatory and inclusive approach to development through active involvement of Non-State Actors (NSAs).
With the formulation of the CDP, ECOWAS is bent to transform the current ‘ECOWAS of States’ into an ‘ECOWAS of Peoples’ which is part of its Vision 2020 that was adopted by the Authority of Heads of States and Government in June 2007.
To successfully achieve the Vision, ECOWAS has launched a survey in all its Member States to collect data on NSAs. The aim of the survey is to build a comprehensive database and assess NSAs contribution to sub-regional activities, build a comprehensive directory and to enable ECOWAS to have a better understanding of the needs and aspiration of NSAs towards ECOWAS programmes.
In this light, the ECOWAS Commission, with the financial support of European Union and other partners, on Wednesday, organized a-day long sensitization and launching of the regional survey on Non-State Actors in The Gambia at Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
The overall objectives of the workshop include promoting better understanding of NSAs by collecting data on their activity in order to efficiently assess their potential contribution to the development of the region. It also aims to develop a comprehensive database of NSAs in ECOWAS region.
In his opening statement, Serign Cham, permanent secretary two at the ministry of finance and economic affairs, noted that the NSAs have an important role to play in policy debates and development of the region, “given their political and social legitimacy as well as their greater flexibility”.
“I would like to reiterate the support from the authorities of our country whose leadership and commitment to the cause of African integration in general, and integration in West Africa, in particular, is known and appreciated by all,” he said.
Prof. Lambert N Bamba, commissioner of macroeconomic policy at the ECOWAS Commission, noted that if ECOWAS is to be successful in transforming from ‘ECOWAS of States’ to an ‘ECOWAS of Peoples’ then the Commission and Member States should take ownership of this new vision. “This requires a good knowledge of Non State Actors and a better understanding of how they operate,” he said.
The basic issue in achieving this laudable objective is how to transform our respective countries to better meet current developmental challenges. The forces of globalization and instability have made West African countries to be susceptible to adverse economic conditions.
“It has become quite obvious that ECOWAS Member States must adapt to these new realities in order to achieve sustainable development. This change could better appreciate by analyzing the global environment and by finding new partners that could sustain a viable position,” Prof. Bamba said.
He noted that the NSAs may be the new partners, “given their flexibility and proximity to larger population, as well as their ability to develop new small-scale projects and to replicate their success stories at national and regional levels”.
John Charles Njie, executive director of Pro-Poor Advocacy Group, who spoke on behalf of the NSAs, said the world recognizes the role of NSAs in realizing West Africa’s economic potential.
“West Africa is indeed endowed with abundance of human and natural resources, a coastal location coupled with an impressive land mass and huge potential for strong growth , yet our society has realized very little of its potential,” he said.
He explained that the workshop was designed to develop an independent process to enhance the efficient organization and contribution of NSAs to the CDP process.
The workshop was focused on the study of the contribution of NSAs to the regional development process, the collation of information required to create the database of NSAs, and setting up of an institutional framework for monitoring the survey in The Gambia.