ECOWAS moves to extend the West African Gas Pipeline project to Liberia
Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has warned of a potential threat to regional security if there is no immediate action by the member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to check the brewing conflict along the country’s border with neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, who gave the warning during a brief visit to the ECOWAS Commission while on a recent visit to Nigeria, described the situation as “grave.”
She said the gravity of the situation in the area has already compelled her administration to reinforce the Liberian security along the border. She warned that the danger signals are real and that if the situation overwhelms the capacity of the country’s security services, there would be dire implications for not only the two countries, but the entire region.
The Liberian President was referring to the roaming bands of armed gangs that have, in recent times, been terrorizing communities in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire from Liberia.
“ECOWAS must pay attention to the situation to ensure it does not escalate,” President Johnson-Sirleaf said in a meeting with the Vice President of the Commission, Toga Gayewea McIntosh, and the commissioners. She said the region is confronted with the twin challenge of insecurity and humanitarian disasters, pointing out that due to lack of development in the region, ECOWAS must ensure that it adopts a more aggressive strategy to stimulate intra-Community trade, and the economies of member states.
The ECOWAS Community Vice President in his response used the occasion to brief Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf on regional programmes being implemented for Liberia, including a $2.5 million study to integrate the country into the regional gas supply infrastructure, the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP).
The multi-billion dollar project is designed to transport natural gas from the oil fields in Nigeria through a 450-kilometre pipeline system for supply to ECOWAS member states, to help meet their energy needs. The first phase of the programme covers Benin, Togo, and Nigeria.
Another study is also being undertaken to explore the possibility of integrating Liberia into the West Africa Power Pool Project (WAPP), which would enable ECOWAS member states to undertake energy trading, thereby promoting the efficient utilization of the region’s energy endowments.
A third infrastructure project being proposed for the country would link it with Dakar in Senegal as part of the Trans Africa highway project.
Mr. McIntosh, who welcomed the Liberian President on behalf of President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, said the new management of the commission is committed to revitalising the organization in line with the mandate of regional leaders, in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the citizens and the dynamics of the international economic environment.