Abuja - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Canada have agreed to strengthen cooperation in various strategic areas including regional security, trade, economic development and investment, capacity building and humanitarian issues.
According to a statement issued by the regional body, the agreement was reached following the visit by the Director General for West and Central Africa at Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Kenneth Neufeld to ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja.
Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh, said the benefits of long-standing relation between ECOWAS and Canada at country and regional levels, and especially Canada’s leadership role in the capitalization of development partners’ Pool Fund, could not be taken for granted.
He called on ECOWAS development partners to look beyond the traditional areas of collaboration and take on board emerging challenges facing the region such as terrorism, piracy, human and drug trafficking, and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak.
McIntosh explained that Ebola had gone beyond health and has humanitarian and development dimensions, requiring financial and capacity support from partners to address.
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“There are also the post-Ebola implications at national and regional levels, which require raising public awareness and community mobilization for effective preparedness, management and control initiatives” McIntosh added.
He said the Commission would require help to cope with the cost of monitoring presidential elections in five ECOWAS Member States (Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Burkina Faso and Guinea) in 2015.
“These are real challenges that we need to think through and address with development partners and stakeholders.”
Neufeld underlined the importance of the strong partnership between ECOWAS and Canada, and expressed his appreciation for the work being done by the organization in the areas of regional security, integration and development.
He also acknowledged the economic progress and integration taking place in the region and expressed the hope that ECOWAS would bring its dynamism to bear in addressing its challenges.
– CAJ News