Robertsfield — The 22nd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of senior officials and Experts (ICE) for West Africa opened in Liberia Wednesday under the theme; Demographic dynamics for sustainable development in West Africa: challenges and policy measures.
Organised by the Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (SRO-WA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Liberia, this ICE session is expected to come up with solid recommendations on economic and social development issues facing the continent's most populous region.
Delegates are discussing recent regional and international developments likely to impact economic and social development in West African countries; identify major challenges and to propose policy guidelines to help accelerate sustainable development in the sub-region.
Liberia's Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah Jr lauded the ECA for its continuous support to Liberia and the sub-region, especially in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals and Africa's Agenda 2063.
"I hope that strong recommendations in terms of education, agriculture and finances will be made by the participants at this important meeting. These recommendations should also be available at the level of our parliaments so that they have an impact on national polices," the Minister said.
He said such recommendations should not only be the preserve of the annual Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development but trickle down to lawmakers and others for maximum benefit.
For his part, Director of the ECA in West Africa, Bakary Dosso, said three reasons justify choosing the theme of this meeting.
"First, it is a strategic choice. Demographic Dynamics for Development is the new area of specialization of the ECA Sub regional Office for West Africa. Secondly, the West African region is at the forefront of issues related to population dynamics and development. Lastly, the current momentum. There is a worldwide agenda to identify and seize the windows of opportunity of demographic dividend in Africa," he said.
Mr. Dosso said the region was in 2018 home to 377 million people or 30 percent of Africa's population. He said the most populated region of the continent was growing at a pace of 2.7 percent per annum, adding this will double every 25 years.
"Out of an estimated population of 377 million in 2018, just over 200 million or 53.5 percent of the people live below the national poverty line demonstrating the magnitude of the challenges facing the region," said the Director.
Accordingly, he said that countries in the sub-region need to reform their macroeconomic and financial frameworks; invest in human capital; tackle infrastructure deficits; and improve the business climate to positively and sustainably reverse trends.
Mr. Dosso said the success lies in the ability of the national leadership to execute on time, to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the different agendas to which it has committed for the transformation of their respective countries and continent.
He said institutional capacity for evaluation and monitoring of development agendas has been identified as one of the missing links in development processes in West Africa.
The Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Liberia, Pa Lamin Beyai said; "The challenges we face as a sub-region are immense. But the United Nations, working as one in each of your countries, is ready to support you to benefit from the demographic dividend. For that to happen, the progress made in regional integration needs to be sustained in the short, medium, and long terms to ensure that our youthful population is a true force for development, peace, and security."
The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts meets annually with high-level decision-makers from member States to discuss economic and social performance and make relevant recommendations.
In this light, participants will review statutory reports prepared by the Secretariat. They will also review the report on Implementing the SRO-WA Work Program in 2018 and prospects for 2019; the report on the Regional Profile of West Africa; and the one on Progress in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in West Africa.
This ICE session was preceded by an ad hoc expert group meeting from 6 to 7 May 2019, on the theme; National capacities and mechanisms in evaluating progress in the implementation of agendas 2030 and 2063: assessment, challenges and prospects in West Africa.
Delegates from the 15 West African States as well as senior representatives and experts from the ECOWAS, Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA), the Mano River Union (UFM), and other intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) of the Sub-Region are attending the ICA. In addition to ECA experts, representatives of other UN agencies, partners, NGOs, development and research institutions are also attending.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is one of the five Regional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). Its Office in West Africa has as objective to support the development efforts made by the fifteen countries of the Sub-Region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) through the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that can contribute to their economic and social transformation.
The ICE is an organ created by the United Nations General Assembly. Every year, it brings together high-level decision-makers from Member States. It aims, not only to discuss economic and social performance so as to make relevant recommendations, but also to monitor the activities of the Bureau and oversee the drafting and general implementation of its work program, including the formulation of priority objectives for the Sub-Region. Thus, the ICE guides the programs of the Bureau by ensuring that subregional priorities are well integrated, and by making recommendations to resolve issues affecting economic and social development within the Sub-Region. These recommendations may, where appropriate, be considered by the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning & Economic Development.
In West Africa, the ICE meets annually to discuss economic and social performance, using/based on working papers prepared by the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (ECA/SRO-WA).
The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts meets annually with high-level decision-makers from member States to discuss economic and social performance and make relevant recommendations. It is also the statutory framework reserved for member States to oversee the development and implementation of the Office's work programme and monitor its activities. The ICE provides guidance for the Office's programmes by ensuring that subregional priorities are included as much as possible. It also makes recommendations on economic and social development issues in the subregion. These recommendations may, as appropriate, be considered by the joint ECA-African Union meeting of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
For more information, please contact: Tahirou Gouro, Communications Officer, ECA-SRO/WA,
For more information on the ICE, please visit: https://www.uneca.org/ice22-wa