The European Union, EU, has said it will provide 40million Euros in grants to support Trade, Investment and Industrial development in West Africa.
This was made known by the EU Ambassador, Michel Arrion, on Wednesday at the launch of a programme titled “Support to Economic Integration and competitiveness in West Africa”.
The event held at the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Commission in Abuja.
Mr. Arrion said the programme represents an integrated initiative, which aims at promoting intra- and inter-regional trade, improving the business climate and strengthening the productive capacity of West Africa.
He explained that the West Africa Competitiveness Support Programme has two main components.
One is with the objective of improving the investment and business climate in West Africa and is implemented by the World Bank Group, WBG, with a total EU grant of €7.7m.
Mr. Arrion said the second component aims at supporting the ECOWAS and West Africa Economy and Monetary Union, WAEMU, Commissions to implement the regional quality policy which will boost intra-regional and international trade.
He added that the project is being implemented by The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, UNIDO, with an EU grant of €12million.
“West Africa has a major opportunity to deepen internal trade and investment ties and also to become a global economic player. Today, our message to the world is that this region is open for business.
“These two programmes should be seen as an integrated effort to support the process of growth, and are a testimony of ECOWAS commitment to follow this path, and the importance Europe attaches to its relationship with West Africa”, he said.
Speaking at the event, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Ouedraogo thanked WAEMU, the EU, as well as other partners such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ, WBG and UNIDO, for their continuous support towards economic and trade
integration and private sector competitiveness in West Africa.
He said that the components of the programme will contribute towards the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, CET, and the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA.
Mr. Ouedraogo commended the political commitment of the region and the leadership of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in consolidating the ECOWAS Common market through, inter-alia, strengthening the free movement of people and goods, as well as the attainment of quality infrastructure.
The UNIDO representative to Nigeria, Patrick Kormawa, said that creating access to markets remains a significant challenge in the region and West Africa Quality Support Project will be the instrument of change in the sub region.
The country Director of the World Bank group, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, in her speech noted that West African countries have enormous potential to strengthen competitiveness and increase trade and investment flows, which can drive growth, reduce poverty, and deliver jobs in the region.