Niamey — There can be no meaningful and successful transformational development in West Africa in the absence of inclusive growth and development, Nigeria's Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, said during the region's just-ended 23rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) for West Africa.
In his opening statement to the meeting, the Minister said inclusive and sustainable growth were critical to the region's development, adding West Africa needs to work hard together to identify drivers that will move the sub-region forward in terms of development.
Mr. Agba said it was crucial that countries in the region worked hard to ensure the development process was more inclusive.
He said the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts meeting was a great opportunity for member States in the region to 'discuss and decide on the way forward for sustainable economic growth and development in our highly cherished sub-region'.
"It is now up to you to identify drivers that will move the sub region forward. It is therefore necessary to develop and deploy human capital and improve our infrastructure stock to increase productivity and competitiveness," Mr. Agba told senior officials, representatives of the private sector, the United Nations, academia and others attending the meeting.
For her part, the Director of ECA's Sub-regional Office for West Africa, Ngone Diop, said; "We are aware of the serious development gaps in West Africa and across the African continent, including other factors such as the low level of human development, the volatile security situation, the increase in migration and the challenges of demographic dynamics resulting from them."
She continued: "Despite these trends, we must believe that the future belongs to us, and that a better future, a prosperous Africa and West Africa is possible. I am fully convinced that with a united front, we can seize the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to move forward in a more resilient and sustainable manner."
Ms. Diop said the ECA will continue to work with member States in their quest to achieve inclusive growth and development.
The meeting, held against the background of the global novel coronavirus pandemic, was hosted by ECA's Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (SRO-WA) and the Government of Nigeria.
Its main objective was to discuss recent developments that could impact the economic and social development of West African countries, with a view to identifying the main challenges to be addressed, and to propose policy recommendations for accelerating sustainable development through the transformation of the economies of the sub region.
In this regard, participants reviewed statutory reports produced by the Secretariat. Member States examined in turn the report on the implementation of the SRO-WA work programme that ran from the 22nd ICE in May 2019 up to September 2020. Reports on the socio-economic profile of West Africa and progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in West Africa were also reviewed.
The 23rd ICE for West Africa was held virtually from 26 to 27 under the theme «Maximizing Investments to Optimize Demographic Dynamics in a COVID 19 era: The Imperative of Building Back Better ».
The session was attended by delegates from the 15 West African States, as well as senior representatives and experts from ECOWAS, WAEMU, the Mano River Union (MRU), and other Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) of the sub-region. In addition to the ECA, other agencies of the United Nations system in Niger, notably the Resident Country Coordinator's Offices, as well as other development partners and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) contributed to the meeting's success.
This meeting was preceded by a virtual meeting of think tanks and experts from West Africa that ran from 24 to 25 November 2020 on the theme «Generational economy and structural transformation in COVID-19 era in West Africa ».
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