16 April 2014

West Africa: Ghana Assumes Ecowas Chair At UN

press release

Ghana's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, Ken Kanda, has assumed chairmanship of the ECOWAS group at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

It followed the election of Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama as the ECOWAS Chairman at the 44th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Yamoussoukro, La Cote d'Ivoire, on March 28, this year.

Receiving the gavel, a symbol of office from Ambassador Bamba Youssoufou of La Côte d'Ivoire at a ceremony at the African Union Secretariat, Ambassador Kanda indicated that more work would be done to bring ECOWAS into the limelight of the UN system.

He called for regular deliberations among the member-states of the ECOWAS sub-region, as well as their experts, not only on issues before the UN but other matters that would inure to the benefit of their people.

In this vein, Ambassador Kanda suggested a direct and regular linkage between the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja and the ECOWAS group in New York to harmonize and promote their work.

Ambassador Kanda praised his predecessors, particularly Ambassador Youssoufou for their hardwork in bringing the ECOWAS group to its present position.

Earlier, Ambassador Youssoufou, whose two-year tenure ended yesterday, commended members of the ECOWAS group at the UN for their solidarity and brotherhood, as well as their cordial relations with other sub-regional African groupings like the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

He recounted various issues that were tackled during their tenure, mentioning the way ECOWAS handled the Mali crisis resulting in a successful elections as well as the sharp intervention in Guinea Bissau.

Ambassador Youssoufou tasked the new chairman to ensure that the African group has a voice in the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mrs U. Joy Ogwu, Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the Security Council for April 2014, asserted that Africa was one and not a divided continent, so all the sub-groups should meet regularly to harmonize various perspectives on issues.

Tracing the objectives for the formation of ECOWAS, Ambassador Ogwu called for a reflection on the original design of ECOWAS as an economic grouping of West African States by refocusing on how to effectively improve the life of their people.

In a solidarity message on behalf of the Southern African Development Community , Ambassador Ismael A. Gaspar Martins of Angola who graced the occasion ,expressed his delight to be part of the handing-over ceremony, describing it as an African affair.

He noted that Ghana had assumed chairmanship of the ECOWAS group at a very crucial period and therefore hoped that the Continent would be the richer for it.

Ambassador Martins praised ECOWAS for bringing a new hope of life to Guinea Bissau and pledged the support and cooperation of SADC in the cause of Africa.

There were similar congratulatory messages from the Permanent Representatives of Liberia, the Gambia, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger and Senegal.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of 15 countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters.

The Heads of State and Government broke with the past by their historic decision to transform the ECOWAS Secretariat into a Commission in 2006.

The ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, more often called The Fund are its two main institutions designed to implement policies, pursue a number of programmes and carry out development projects in Member States. Such projects include intra-community road construction and telecommunications; and agricultural, energy and water resources development.

- ISD (Harry Reynolds, NY)

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