COTE D’LVOIRE, West Africa – On November 26, 2020, the African Development Bank launched the West African regional integration strategy for the period 2020-2025 during a virtual seminar, which brought together representatives of the Bank, regional economic communities and member countries. The new West Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper (DSIR-WA) 2020-2025 was approved on May 28 by the Board of Directors of the Bank Group.
The main objectives of the webinar were to provide an overview of the new strategy and to create a platform for multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary collaboration for high-level dialogue to mobilize regional member countries in favor of regional integration.
Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, director-general of the Bank for West Africa, Abdallah Boureima, President of the UEMOA Commission, and Pathé Gueye, Commissioner in charge of infrastructure of the ECOWAS Commission, took part in the meeting.
The integration strategy highlights the region’s abundance of resources, diversity and opportunities while pointing out its socio-economic challenges. The two main priorities will be to improve the resilience of cross-border infrastructures and to support the development of regional businesses. It will also be a question of promoting the development of intraregional trade and financial integration in West Africa.
Pathé Gueye underlined the context of the health challenge, in which this launch takes place, at a time when ECOWAS is laying the foundations of its 2020-2050 Vision and those of the single currency, without forgetting the security challenge and fragility for some countries. “It is time to develop the major road and rail corridors at a time when the level of intra-African trade totals only 13 percent”, he added.
According to Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, “we have no more time to waste, we have to engage in action by working better together and paying attention to the capacities for implementation with a greater sense of emergency. We need to be able to assess our action and measure our impact on populations. ”
The presentation of the portfolio of regional projects financed by the Bank and currently and under implementation in West Africa revealed that the transport sector with 30 projects valued at UA 1.16 billion and he energy with 25 projects worth UA 654 million (about $ 923.2 million) absorbs more than half of the investments.
Regarding the financing of the strategy, which requires immense resources, Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade explained that the Bank would continue to allocate resources for its priority programs but would above all develop the existing synergies with its partners and with the private sector, an important player in the implementation of development programs. With the establishment of the Forum for Investment in Africa (AIF), the Bank has created a window of opportunities for the financing of structuring projects, she underlined.
The presentation of the strategy provided a better understanding of the Bank’s ambitions in terms of integration in the zone. Thus, the Bank plans to finance over this period 35 projects with a total value of UA 3.5 billion (approximately $ 4.94 billion). They concern in particular transport and technological infrastructures but also energy by strengthening climate resilience.
The new document builds on the successes and lessons of the previous strategy (2011-2017), highlights the Bank’s priority areas of intervention that are in line with the objectives of the Union’s Agenda 2063 Africa, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Sustainable Development Goals, the ECOWAS Vision 2020 and the global agreements on climate change.
The webinar enabled high-level exchanges on the most effective responses to help RECs and bank member countries overcome new challenges of regional integration due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other shocks external similar.