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EC grants Ecowas 44.8m Euros

This Day, Lagos

EC Grants Ecowas 44.8m Euros

By Oke Epia, Abuja

16 July 2007

The European Commission (EC), has approved a total of 44.8 million Euros to support regional integration in West Africa over a period of five years, from 2007 to 2011.

The funding, according to a press release signed jointly by the EC and the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will cover four cardinal areas of integration in West Africa. These are achievement of a common market; macro-economic stability and convergence; institutional capacity building; and competitiveness enhancement and productive sectors.

This new grant brings to a total of 235 million Euros, as Contribution Agreement under the current 9th European Development Fund (EDF) and it is divided into two main focal sectors: Economic integration and trade enhancement (£118 million), transport facilitation (£82 million) and additional projects covering peace and conflict prevention, fishery, culture, health and other facilities.

According to the statement, the Contribution Agreement is one of many supports provided by the EC to the West African regional integration programme and implemented by the ECOWAS Commission.

In another development, 23 officers from units related to ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) have completed a training programme in Bamako, Mali.

The four-week programme, hosted at the Ecole Maintien de la Paix (EMP), was to sharpen their professional skills and equip them to serve as staff officers and commanders in peace support operations, and was attended by officers from the Task Force headquarters of the ESF, the designated headquarters staff of the Standby Force and Commanders of various units pledged by member states to the 6,500-strong force.

A statement from the ECOWAS Commission said the course, which was handled by officers from the EMP and instructors from the armed forces of Niger and Senegal, consisted of a Brigade Command post programme, civil military cooperation and disarmament among others. demobilization and reintegration training, which was handled by a team from Canada’s Pearson Peace Centre.

The ESF Task Force of 2773 is scheduled to become operational after its certification before the end of 2008. The main brigade of 6,500, which is based on the timetable of the African Union, will be available as one of the standby forces for the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)