Abuja-Nigeria — The 4th ECOWAS Business Forum and the 2nd ECOWAS Private Sector Awards scheduled to take place in the Gambia in September 2012, will be focusing on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development. This was the outcome of the meeting by the Committee comprising representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, Regional Business Associations (RBAs) and other stakeholders, on 2nd and 3rd May 2012 in Banjul, the Gambia. The meeting also agreed that two awards will be given out, one for a Young Entrepreneur who has demonstrated innovations in ICT and the other to a company that has distinguished itself in the field of telecommunications.
The Committee, which also called for the establishment of a communication strategy in order to attract at least one sponsor from each Member State and by sector, set up four sub-communities for planning and preparation for the forum. A working group was also formed to make proposals to the draft budget. The Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy, Dr. Ibrahim Bocar Ba, who was represented at the meeting by the Director of Private Sector, Dr. Alfred Braimah, affirmed ECOWAS' commitment to the awards and charged the committee to come up with concrete measures whose implementation would ensure the success of the two events. He said the forum had resulted in the setting up of a development fund to finance bankable projects, signing of partnership agreements with countries and the creation of the Regional Coordination Centre for Renewable Energy (ECREE) in Cape Verde.
The Commissioner also said the Commission attached great importance to the progress of the Regional Business Associations and regional development in line with the "ECOWAS of Peoples" objective, under Vision 2020 Participants at the meeting included representatives of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), the Federation of West African Manufacturers Association (FEWAMA), and the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Women of ECOWAS (FEFA). Others were the NEPAD Business Group/West Africa, Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAWAS), West African Bankers Association (WABA), West African Assembly of Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (WATRA), the West African Federation of Employers (FOPAO) and ECOWAS Commission officials.