The meeting of trade and competition experts on the implementation of the regional competition policy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) got underway on the 28th of May 2019 in Banjul, The Gambia.
Among others, the 5-Day meeting will enable stakeholders chart a course for the operations of ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) while discussing the unique trading structure of the ECOWAS regional market.
Addressing delegates from Member States, trade and competition experts as well as development stakeholders at the opening of the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Mr. Tei Konzi stated that the community is looking forward to decisions that would promote compliance with the Regional Competition Rules adopted in 2008 by the ECOWAS Authority.
Commissioner Konzi opined that the ECOWAS Commission “views its competition policy as a necessary complement to its trade and investment policies and as such, an important component of its economic development efforts”.
According to him, the decisions would facilitate the efficient and effective operationalization of ERCA established by as the implementing Agency to promote adherence to the ECOWAS Competition Law in the region.
He noted that the Regional Competition Policy Framework (RCPF) developed for the Community in 2007 “underscores the need to complement existing market integration strategies with a strong initiative that would improve competitiveness within the ECOWAS Common market”
In helping to clean up the ECOWAS trade competition environment, the Competition Policy and Law seeks to prohibit anti-competitive and monopolization practises amongst Companies. When followed through, economic growth and improved innovative potential will be engendered while consumer welfare and greater social stability will be guaranteed.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment Hon Lamin Jobe recalled that the supplementary Protocol establishing ERCA defined it as specialised, autonomous and quasi-judicial body contributing by its exertion, to the promotion of economic growth and competitiveness in the ECOWAS common market.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Mr. Ebrima Drammeh disclosed that because the government of The Gambia attaches great importance to regional integration and is very much committed to the implementation of regional protocols and programmes, “ERCA will receive the needed tutelage, support and guidance from the government of The Gambia for its effective operations”
He gave The Gambian government’s pledge to promote consumer welfare and social stability, being indispensable features of a robust market economy.
Before the commencement of proceedings, the goodwill message of the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou marking the 44th anniversary of ECOWAS was read to delegates by the Special Representative to The Gambia Mrs Vabah Gayflor, wherein he called on all to stand in remembrance and in thankful acknowledgement of the visioners “who made the regional Economic Community, more than a reality, a shining example of solidarity”.
Highlighting the community’s strides, challenges and prospects, President Brou restated the regional leaders’ desire to jointly tackle the challenges facing their countries and pool resources, while respecting their diversity, in order to achieve stability in the region, ensure rapid growth and optimised production, and raise the living standards of the people.
He said it is in furtherance of this that an enabling regional framework is being created for economic development and investment, through the Macroeconomic Stability and Convergence Pact, implementation of the recently adopted Regional Investment Code, the Regional Mining Code and the establishment of the ERCA.
President Brou reaffirmed his commitment, and that of all Heads of ECOWAS Institutions, “to contribute to the actualisation of the Vision 2020 of an ECOWAS of People, wherein reigns stability, social cohesion and solidarity, for the wellbeing of the citizens”.
The Meeting is featuring the presentation of the memorandum on the mandate, objectives and operationalisation of the ERCA by the Acting Director of the authority’s acting Executive Director Mrs. Henrietta Didigu. This was considered alongside other presentations by Member States bordering on the status reports on the implementation of the RCPF.
Besides representatives of Member States, other officials attending the meeting chaired by Nigerian trade expert Mr. Judethaddeus Etong, include Executive Secretary of the GCPCC Mr. Amadou Ceesay. The Experts’ meeting will culminate in the official launch of the operations of the ERCA on the 31st May 2019. (ECOWAS)