Accra - Ghana — The ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre (YSDC) requires the sustained support of all stakeholders especially the media to deliver on its mandate of using sports and youth empowerment as tools to foster regional integration, the Centre's Director Mr. Francis Njoaguani said in Accra, the Ghanaian capital on Tuesday 19th June 2012.
Welcoming participants to a one-day Sensitization Workshop for journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing 2nd ECOWAS Games, the director underscored the important role of the media in the actualization of the mission and objectives of the Centre, which was created by regional leaders through a decision at their 28th Ordinary Session in Accra on 13th January 2005. Mr. Njoaguani explained that the Centre sought to maximize the opportunity provided by the biennial regional Games to apprise journalists in the region with the activities and programmes of the Centre, a specialised ECOWAS agency based in Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital.
This is with the hope of making the media a willing advocate of the Centre, in particular and ECOWAS in general, he affirmed. In one of the presentations at the workshop, the ECOWAS Acting Director of Communication, Mr. Sunny Ugoh, took participants through the organization's institutions, functions, progammes and activities, as well as its achievements and challenges, and important milestones in its 37 years of existence. He highlighted key innovations that have accompanied the Revised Treaty of 1993, including the establishment of the Community Court of Justice and ECOWAS Parliament, institution of self-financing budgets for Community Institutions, and the introduction of the Community Levy now used to finance about 80% of the Community programmes.
Others are the benefits of the organization's flagship free movement protocol, especially the abolition of visas by Member States, thereby making ECOWAS the only region with free-visa regime in Africa, as well as measured progress on the ECOWAS Passport and the Common Market programmes. The other presentations on the Centre's Youth and Sports programmes, the ECOWAS sports and youth policies and the ECOWAS Volunteer Programme, elaborated the organization's activities in the area of sports, volunteerism and youth development which seeks to empower young people, who constitute more than 33% of the region's estimated 300 million population.
The presenters stressed the need to encourage the culture of peace and volunteerism in West African youth and to use sports as a veritable tool not only for youth empowerment but the actualization of regional integration and the attainment of Vision 2020 for transformation from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People.
The journalists commended the YSDC for the workshop and suggested the formation of a regional network of sports journalists and the need to be kept updated on the activities of the Centre and ECOWAS as a whole. The Centre's objectives include making sports a key aspect of socio-economic life of Community citizens, an engine of human development, and the empowerment of youth for peaceful co-existence and regional integration. It is also involved in the training and capacity building, collection and management of database and network administration, collection of information/data relating to youth associations and sports federations as well as Information, Communication and Telecommunication (ICT) training and capacity building.
Other activities/programmes of the Centre include youth employment and poverty alleviation, youth on the prevention and settlement of conflicts and peace consolidation, promotion of sports and integration as well as development and promotion of traditional sports and games.