Deepening regional integration through national and regional dialogue
LAGOS, Nigeria, June 13, 2017 — The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the World Bank Group will co-host the ECOWAS Investment Climate Scorecard Roundtable in Lagos, Nigeria from June 13-14, under the European funded Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa Project. The Project seeks to address a range of investment policy issues that constitute barriers for the private sector to invest efficiently across the region.
The purpose of the event is to launch the ECOWAS Investment Climate (IC) Scorecard, an innovative instrument that enables both the ECOWAS Commission and national policymakers of the Member States to identify investment barriers both nationally and regionally; track the progress of national investment-climate and investment-policy reforms; share good practices and proposed investment reforms both nationally and regionally; and encourage the creation of a transparent and attractive investment climate to enhance private sector-led development in West Africa. Over 70 public and private sector representatives from 15 Member States of ECOWAS, as well as representatives from the ECOWAS Commission, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the European Union, and the World Bank Group will attend the two-day event.
“ECOWAS is committed to implementing programs that facilitate regional integration and making it work for private sector operators and the people of West Africa,” said Kalilou Traore, ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion. “The IC Scorecard standard benchmark criteria have been derived from international good-practice set forth in the ECOWAS Investment Policy Framework. The balanced approach of the Scorecard will encourage national reforms that will foster regional policy harmonization.”
The Project is supporting the ECOWAS Commission to further its regional integration agenda by working simultaneously at the regional and national levels to identify, address and monitor elimination of specific barriers to the expansion of cross-border investments. This unique hybrid approach has been spearheaded by the Project. The objective is to incentivize the Member States to adhere to the good-practice standard benchmark criteria/indicators by integrating the same into their investment-reform agendas in line with the regional ECOWAS Investment Policy (IP) Framework. The Scorecard tool supports and monitors the implementation of the ECOWAS investment reforms in Member States by aligning national reform initiatives to the regional ECOWAS IP Framework.
"The fact that the European Union is financing this project is testimony of the Commission's commitment to improving regional private sector competitiveness through the facilitation of trade and investment. Our support to improving investment conditions is part of the overall EU priority support to ECOWAS and West Africa which has been ongoing for quite some time and we are committed to continue under our new development cycle which covers 2014-2020," said Ambassador Michel Arrion, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
At the heart of this agenda is establishing a strong Regional Public- Private Dialogue (PPD) mechanism. The first PPD forum was initiated through an inaugural technical workshop in Dakar in June 2015 and since then has been advanced at the national level. National reform action plans have been obtained from six pilot countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) towards the formal commitment to the regional monitoring scorecard. Non-pilot countries have been invited as observers to help them prepare for future work. An expected outcome from the roundtable event is to get agreement from the six pilot countries on the specific national reforms to be monitored by the Scorecard.
“West Africa has enormous potential to strengthen their competitiveness and increase investment flows, which can drive growth, reduce poverty, and deliver jobs to the region. The World Bank Group is pleased to be working in partnership with regional organizations, Member States, the private sector and development partners to help these countries unlock investment challenges along key trade corridors, and improve their competitiveness within the global economy,” said Eme Essien, IFC Nigeria Country Manager, World Bank Group.
The Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa Project is a €7.7m, four-year initiative that was launched in November 2014. The Project is funded by the European Union and seeks to support the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Member States to remove national investment constraints/barriers and to promote the regional expansion of cross-border investments. The Project is implemented by the World Bank Group which is providing technical assistance and working in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission, the Member States, and private sector business associations, to design and implement the ECOWAS Investment Climate Scorecard.