Friday, November 8, 2013

Why Ecobank must deliver for African citizens

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*mob: +233.268.687.653/+ __________________________________________________________ ekbensah DotNet: Regional integration Intelligence| West Africa-ECOWAS | Communications | Civil society __________________________________________________________

Is #Ecobank delivering for you?

The "Pan-African bank" is 25 yrs old in this 50th year of African integration efforts. It has just opened a branch in the diplomatic capital of Africa-- Addis Ababa.

Question is: is it delivering for you?

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*mob: +233.268.687.653/+ __________________________________________________________ ekbensah DotNet: Regional integration Intelligence| West Africa-ECOWAS | Communications | Civil society __________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

COMMENT:"...there is Hope of Africa’s Agricultural Integration! (2)"

From the Continental to the Regional, there is Hope of Africa's Agricultural Integration! (2)
'The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen':
By E.K.Bensah Jr

In the early part of the naughties, I was working for a development NGO in Brussels. Many of my days were spent data-mining all things development-oriented, and producing a newsletter everyday with colleagues. Even before I had the opportunity of becoming an NGO delegate at the NGO caucus of the UN Conference on Least Development Countries (LDCs), which was held in May 2001, I had been reading tomes of information about the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. The more I read, the more confused I becameexcept on one thing: the EU was spending a gargantuan amount of money subsidizing its farmers; the Americans were doing same. Conversely, in Africa, there did not seem to be any hope in sight that Africa had a plan around food security.

Of course, history has a different tale to tell us: we now know that in 2003, the Maputo Declaration was formulated and that the African Union (even at its infancy of having transmogrified from an OAU to an AU in 2002) was considering having a continental programme to address food on the continent.

Back in 2001, I spent every Thursday at work putting up a newsletter on regional dynamics, regional trade to our over 500-subscribers. That was a day I looked forward to: presenting to readers who had no idea about our regional economic communities that there was a group like ECOWAS with 15 member countries, and groupings like SADC with 14, etc, that were trying to formulate their own policy plans for a more self-sufficient Africa.

So it was great and insightful reading then that no less than the-then Executive Secretary of ECOWAS Lansuna Kouyate had emphasized that agriculture is paramount for West Africa's development 'as 70% of the sub-region's population resides in the agricultural sector.' I would also read that no less than the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had had two other meetings, and had even had a third meeting with ECOWAS that would 'work towards harmonizing legislation and regulations, co-ordinate and integrate institutions dealing with agricultural matters.' One of the major outcomes of this FAO-ECOWAS confab/bilateral would be a meeting that would put on the table a concrete proposal for West Africa to have a Common Agricultural Policy for itself.

Ten years after Maputo, this makes sense, and I hope that come 2015 when ECOWAS celebrates 40 years of its existence, it will make important and significant space to commemorate 10 years of the passing of the policy by the Authority of the Heads of State of ECOWAS of the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy known as ECOWAP.

Understanding ECOWAP
When the Heads of State adopted the ECOWAP back in 2005, the idea was for it to be an instrument for the coordination of the CAADP (referred to in last week's article), which doubles as the agricultural component of the New partnership for Africa's Development(NEPAD) within West Africa. According to ECOWAS, this policy is supposed to have a 'modern and sustainable agriculture, based on the effectiveness and efficiency of family farms and the promotion of agricultural enterprises through the involvement of the private sector.' It continues that 'productive and competitive in the intra-Community and international markets, it must ensure food security and remunerative incomes to its workers'

The implementation of ECOWAS/CAADP is predicated on implementation of investment programs at the national level (NIP), as well as the sub-regional. The Regional Agricultural Investment Programme (RAIP) comprises six components, which include:

*Improvement of water management
*Improved management of others hared natural resources

*The sustainable development of farms
*Development of agricultural value chains and the promotion of the markets

*Prevention and management of food crises and other natural catastrophes

*Institutional strengthening, including support for the improvement of agricultural and rural policy and strategy formulation capacities; as well as communication

If one considers the fact that food and agriculture is a sector critical for intervention in West Africa, and identified by the Treaty establishing the creation of ECOWAS; as well as the fact that the revised treaty (1993) enjoins member states to cooperatein order to ensure food security; increased production and productivity; protection of prices of export commodities on the international market, one can begin to already see the significance of agriculture to the sub-region.

As I intoned last week, this is perhaps an example of a continental programme devolving to the regional and the national almost-simultaneously. We must begin, therefore, to also encourage our communicators and media-men to take interest in these processes.

Way forward on agriculture in Ghana, and Africa

A lot of the time, we complain that ECOWAS and the AU, and such-like institutions are not working. True, much of the time, they do not work because implementation of proposed strategies takes a scandalously-long time to translate into results that can be seen. We may not have seen how over a decade so much has happened around Africa's agriculture, but the narrative is there for all to follow and read. September 2013 will go down the annals of agricultural history in West Africa as significant for the manner in which plans were followed almost to the letter.

The opaqueness around the recruitment of those who will man and head the ECOWAS Food and Agricultural Agency notwithstanding, I believe ECOWAS Community citizens can pat themselves on the back for a job well-done by Africa's policy-makers. Let us break the myth of when we want to hide something from the Black Man, we put it in a book, and get to reading, discussing, and understanding the narrative of Africa's agricultural integration. CAADP is not going to go away until all 54 countries have signed onto it. So far, 30 countries have done so. There are plans for each of the seven other regional economic communities (RECS) establishing food and agricultural agencies for their respective regions. ECOWAS has led the way, but it must also lead the way in ensuring effective policy-implementation.

In the meantime, I hope as World Food Day approaches with increasing celerity on October 16, a conversation will be had in the media on Ghana's food security. The upcoming FAGRA might be an opportunity to broach the topic of CAADP/ECOWAS RFAA, and, finally, Farmer's Day should be used to re-visit the debates of Africa's food security.

Let's keep the agricultural integration narrative from the continental to the regional alive!
In 2009, in his capacity as a 'Do More Talk Less Ambassador' of the 42nd Generationan NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233-268.687.653.

Source: Emmanuel K. Bensah Jr.
Story from Modern Ghana News:

Published: Wednesday, October 09, 2013

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Friday, August 23, 2013

The UN Economic Commission for Africa wants to know YOUR views on Single AFRICAN currency

The decision by Africa to have a single currency has been a long-contested issue in African integration circles.

In 2009, the AU-sponsored First Congress of African Economists discussed it as a theme.

Today, on Facebook, UNECA's Joseph Atta-Mensa, working on a paper on that theme, asks your views on the topic. Is it feasible? Is it workable? Can be achieved on time, etc.

See you there!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Reflection on the necessity of monitoring BURKINA Faso

Thanks to, I was compelled to put my thinking cap on (which I often like to leave off...): a  Ghanaian "friend" asked me a dicey, juicy question about Burkina Faso politics (the President there (CompaorĂ©) has been in power since 1987) and the possibility of the President there tweaking the constitution to remain in power. 

A simple question brought about ramifications never thought possible: here's the case that ECOWAS Commission President is from Burkina; he is eyeing the Presidency himself in 2016. 

Small problem is that incumbent will step down in 2015 (in theory!) at a time when current ECOWAS President has to show his mettle that he presided over celebrations of ECOWAS' 40 years. So what does he do: try his luck at the Presidency of Burkina Faso -- or stay at ECOWAS and make an impact? Either way, Burkina is a country to watch in the sub-region in the next couple of years!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

COMMENT:"Here’s how Wikipedia might have captured an “ECOWAS Commissioner” stub"

Here's how Wikipedia might have captured an "ECOWAS Commissioner" stub
'The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen
In my last article, I touched on the emergence of a permanent West African Civil service that the new ECOWAS Commission will eventually be. Since the commencement of the duties of the Commission in 2007, Community citizens can safely say the ECOWAS Commissioner has been an invisible force. We need the ECOWAS Parliament as an ally to ensure they become accountable. The jury is out as to whether an ECOWAS Commissioner can adequately-compete with the European Commission. What we do know is that ECOWAS has access to independent and non-donor resources that can transform the ECOWAS Commissioners into powerful plenipotentiaries fully representing the West African interest. One way of ensuring this happens is by shedding light on what the ECOWAS Commissioner is supposed to do to ensure the interest of the West African is preserved. 

By E.K.Bensah Jr
An ECOWAS Commissioner is a member of the 15-member ECOWAS Commission. Each Member within the college possesses a specific portfolio, and is led by the President of the ECOWAS Commission. Simply put, they are equivalent of national ministers.

It remains unclear at the moment how ECOWAS Commissioners are appointed. Ideally, each commissioner should first be nominated by their member state in consultation with the Commission President. Ideally, the more capable the candidate, the more powerful a portfolio the ECOWAS Commission President will assign.

The President's team should ideally then be vetted by hearings at the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja. In the absence of a legislative ECOWAS Parliament, community citizens are hamstrung by having the Commissioners attain the post without any formal vetting of any kind. Significant steps are in motion for the ECOWAS Parliament to graduate from a consultative to a legislative body. There has been no indication that when this happens, incoming ECOWAS Commissioners will go through hearings at the ECOWAS Parliament.

Once the Community Parliament is able to make this happen, one is likely to see more oversight by Parliament of the Commissioners, their duties, functions; and responsibilities to the citizens of West Africa.

What is likely to happen now is that the Authority of the Heads of State of Government of ECOWAS (which have powers binding on ECOWAS institutions) will be the ones to approve the ECOWAS Commissioners.

It should be noted that unlike the European Commissioner that does not necessarily represent their Member state, each of the fifteen ECOWAS Commissioners (including President and Vice) are representatives of their member states. This means, for example, that the Ghanaian ECOWAS Commissioner that will hold the portfolio of Administration and Conferences will automatically become the most senior Ghanaian at the ECOWAS Commission. It is a given that they should fight for the interests of Ghana. 

That said, while each Commissioner will implicitly work for the interests of their Member State, it is believed they are supposed to act in 'West African interests'. Although there is a nebulous perception of the 'West African interest', perhaps the ECOWAS Treaty does attempt to spell it out for all and sundry in article 3(1) of the revised ECOWAS Treaty (1993). It is conceivable that the West African interest is one that seeks to 'promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the living standards of its peoples, and to maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among Member States and contribute to the progress and development of the African Continent.'

Unlike the European Commissioner, the ECOWAS counterpart is unlikely to be necessarily selected from the political party of the day. While it is difficult to predict what other West African countries would do, what one often finds in Ghana, for example, is that a political party in power is likely to nominate a (popular) political opponent to an international position as a way of ensuring they do not interfere with the politics of the day. For example, political opponent of the National Patriotic Party(NPP) Alan Kyeremateng was nominated to the position of the World Trade Organisation, and endorsed by ministers of the African Union. This runs counter to the European situation where the political party of the day almost-always rallies support for their popular member to be propelled into international civil serviceas was the case of the Labour Party in the UK recommending and lobbying for Lord (Peter) Mandelson to be become European Commissioner for Trade in November 2004.

Partly due to the member-state selection, only a handful of the 15-member Commission are women: the Commission remains largely a preserve of men.

In 2009, in his capacity as a 'Do More Talk Less Ambassador' of the 42nd Generationan NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233-268.687.653.

Source: Emmanuel K. Bensah Jr.
Story from Modern Ghana News: 

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fwd: COMMENT:"Communicating the ECOWAS Message (4): A New Roadmap for the Ouedraogo Commission(1)"

Communicating the ECOWAS Message (4): A New Roadmap for the Ouedraogo Commission(1)

'The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen
For the third time since its inception in 1975, ECOWAS is undergoing institutional reform. The first was when it revised its treaty on 24 July, 1993; the second was in 2007, when the Secretariat was transformed into a Commission. Professor Senghor, an authority on Sene-Gambian relations, quintessential Pan-Africanist; and former UN diplomat, speaks of the ECOWAS Treaty as 'the Bible' of where West Africa needs to be. In an ideal world, West African media ought to be agog with the 20 years of the revised Treaty. We settle for second-best today by touching on the outcomes of the 43rd Ordinary Session, as well as the significance of what a new 15-member Commission means for West African governance

Diplomats at the European Commission might not yet be quaking in their boots, because they have probably been so consumed by their arrogance for the institution they work for -- the permanent European civil service -- as setting the trend for the rest of the world, including for the emergence of the permanent West African Civil Service, or the ECOWAS Commission. But they should be a little worried, because the emergence of Commissioners for the other seven regional economic communities(RECs) of IGAD; SADC; COMESA; ECCAS; EAC; AMU; CENSAD might offer a double-edged sword for the EU's typical engagement with Africa. But that is another story!

Immediately upon hearing from a trusted and reliable source at the ECOWAS Commission that ECOWAS now has six new departments (Human Resources Management; Education, Science and Culture; Energy and Mines; Telecommunications and IT; Industry and Private Sector Promotion. Finance and Administration to Sierra Leone has been decoupled, to give the incoming Ghana Commissioner the new portfolio of Administration and Conferences), I sought to review my patchy notes on its European counterpart of the EU Commissioner.

Suffice-to-say, Wikipedia has quite a detailed account of what constitutes a European Commissionereven almost to salaries, and the percentage to which it is a reflection many times over of the European civil service grade. Most importantly, it covers how they are appointed; the Oath they are supposed to take; the history of the evolution of the European Commissioner; the extent to which they are accountable to European citizens; salaries; and finally which member state of the 28-member European Commission holds what portfolio. (I daresay there is no Wikipedia entry yet of an ECOWAS Commissioner. Any takers?).

The emergence of an ECOWAS Commissioner
Setting up a Wikipedia stub on an 'ECOWAS Commissioner' will not be a problem; it is just a matter of getting committed people to do adequate research on what entails an official becoming an ECOWAS Commissioner (even against the odds of scant information in the capitals of member states on the institutional development of ECOWAS' architecture). If we lived in a perfect world, we should by now have sufficient information in all member states about the Ecowas Treaty; the evolution of ECOWAS from a Secretariat to a Commission in 2007; and finally, the build-up to the newly-expanded Commission, which is highly significant.

This is because it sets a precedent for a veritable and permanent West African civil service, for in the same way the European Commissioners are equivalent to national ministers, so will this expansion signify an attempt by West Africa to have its own national ministers as well. As to the extent to which they remain accountable to the ECOWAS Parliament and other Community institutions are important indicators of the future of any kind of West African governance. 

If we quickly look at the revised Ecowas Treaty of 1993, article 20 enjoins staff of the Community to ensure that 'in the performance of their duties, the [erstwhile] Executive Secretary, the Deputy Executive Secretaries, and other staff of the Community shall owe their loyalty entirely and be accountable only to the Community'. It continues 'In this regard, they shall neither seek nor accept instructions from any government or any rational or international authority external to the Community.' What article 20 does not say is what happens when staff of the Community is found to have breached this article. Are there any sanctions that will be meted out to them? For example, could they be accountable to the ECOWAS Parliament and/or to the Community Court of Justice?

In my view, what this can only serve to remind us about is this: until and unless the ECOWAS Commission begins to fast-track synergy with the ECOWAS Parliament, it will be a great deal easier for ECOWAS staff to be bullied by Eurocrats, who, along with their interests, are explicitly 'external to the [ECOWAS] Community'. 

Professor Senghor's suggestion for all West African citizens, including policy-makers, through to the average Community citizen to pay attention to the revised ECOWAS Treaty, which turns 20 this week, cannot go unheeded at a critical juncture when institutional changes are taking place at the ECOWAS Commission and ECOWAS turns 40 only in 2 years time!

In 2009, in his capacity as a 'Do More Talk Less Ambassador' of the 42nd Generationan NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233-268.687.653.

Source: Emmanuel K. Bensah Jr.
Story from Modern Ghana News: 

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

VIDEO CLIP: "The OAU/AU @ 50: How relevant is it? METRO TV 4 June, 2013"--E.K.Bensah Jr vs Mr.Alipui

"There are a crop of leaders on the continent who believe continental integration should not happen!" — at Metro TV.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enter the Chad Dragon in the ECOWAS-CENSAD region!

Back in October 2011, my piece “Hot Issues on the AU needing popular advocacy (I) – or Travelling Cheaply in Africa, & Southern Sudan touched briefly on CENSAD. I started off with a history of CENSAD, going on to ask the way forward.
The Community of Sahel-Saharan States was established in 1998 by the late Colonel Qaddafi. After the rationalization of the regional economic communities in 2006, it became an AU-REC – that is one of the eight RECs mandated and recognized by the African Union. It has twenty-eight members, and Ghana is a member.

Despite many meetings that had taken place and a then-fully-functioning website on, the uprising that started in Libya in March threw a huge spanner in the works of the organisation, effectively throwing the regional grouping out of sync with the other RECs at its base in Tripoli. Regrettably, the conspicuous absence of the African Union itself on the future of CENSAD has not helped dispel the notion that the AU is nothing more than a “toothless” bulldog.

The passing of Qaddafi, I intoned, has effectively taken the wind out of the sails of CENSAD, probably throwing all the good work – including the Great Green Wall being built along the sub-region to protect the region from climate change; as well as the establishment of a free-trade area of ECOWAS-UEMOA-CENSAD/ECOWAS-CENSAD/ECCAS along the likes of the SADC-COMESA-EAC tripartite free trade area, which was mooted in 2008.

Going forward, I would expect to see the AU taking serious the need to engage the National Transitional Council in Libya on their commitments to the African Union. This would include discussions on Libya and where it stands on the establishment of the AU-mandated and Tripoli-hosted African Investment Bank, as well as the state of play of CEN-SAD, and how it can be factored into discussions of Africa’s ongoing discussions over Africa’s integration.

In January 2013, an organisation by the name of Centre 4S, which is based in Morocco, and which researches defence and security in the Sahelo-Saharian band /strip; armed violence and terrorism, among other subjects, released a paper in French entitled “Revitaliser le CENSAD”, or reinvigorating CENSAD.

The main idea of the paper is to look at the critical role CENSAD can play in the Sahel; ways in which cooperation and synergy can be created around the zone, and ways in which there can be strengthened cross-border cooperation.

Truth be told, the uniqueness of CENSAD is in its ability to merge ECOWAS; Arab Maghreb Union and ECCASS countries together. The article maintains that the contribution that CENSAD offers its member states ought to be re-examined. Furthermore, the crisis in Mali has set an important precedent for the member states to really get serious on what can be done to use the body as a tool for securing the region politically and diplomatically.

The paper states that “CENSAD should present itself as an institutional and diplomatic framework, of unity and action, capable of formulating a pertinent response, inclusive and varied, to current security challenges.” Even more important for a reinvigorated and re-launched CENSAD should be the aspiration to complement ECOWAS and the Arab Maghreb Union, especially as they are two RECs most-familiar with the security deficits of the Sahel region. These efforts will “equally allow for a better coherence and coordination of different initiatives on the Sahel”, such as Algeria’s Joint Military Command with Mali; Niger; and Mauritania.

Chad rising, Chad in ECOWAS?
Chad is a Central African country and a member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Some wonder why it should not also become a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) According to one Elvis Kodjo, writing in, 'although the idea has not been officially announced, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Moussa Mahamat Dago indicated on 19 January 2012 in Abidjan during a celebration of Chad's 50th anniversary that the issue was currently being considered.”
The idea for joining rests with the fact that Chad has emerged from several decades of unrest, and understands “more than any other African country that “African integration is necessary for its development”.
The fact is that since the start of oil production in 2005, “Chad has become the ninth largest African oil producer and has improved its network of roads, which has expanded from 200 to more than 3 000 km. Plans for a new, ultramodern airport are underway, and a railroad linking the country to Cameroon will soon be constructed”. Kodjo maintains that “while being a veritable construction site, Chad also has forty million hectors of arable land”.
In order to encourage the effective use of this land, the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mahamat has said that the country “has equipped itself with a particularly attractive investment code” and is looking to secure the best opportunities for itself by diversifying its economic partners in both Central and West Africa.
In March 2011, Chad was, in fact, granted observer status of ECOWAS and my monitoring of Chad's wooing suggests that Chadian President Idris Deby is still keen on sweet-talking Jonathon—in his capacity as leader of the regional hegemon, Nigeria—to accept Chad as a full member of ECOWAS. In April 2012, I was quick to speculate that it is unlikely to happen soon, given the instability in the Sahel region and the headaches of Mali and Guinea-Bissau. All that can be said for now is for observers to keep a keen eye on Chad making “incursions” into ECOWAS sooner than later.
Then Mali happens. And suddenly, we are confronted with a Chad that is offering support to the Africa-led support mission in Mali (AFISMA) to the tune of around 3000 troops, which is around a third of what all ECOWAS troops have offered.

One of the reasons why Chad is an important country to look out for is for what happened on Saturday 16 February when Chad’s president Idris Deby hosted some eleven leaders of the CENSAD regional economic community that was established in 1998. The capital N’djamena played host to what should have been 20 members of the populous grouping. Even if a little over a third of the Heads of State showed up, it was encouraging to see that the 17 other member states dispatched representatives. Furthermore, it has shown that the raison d’ĂȘtre for the establishment of the grouping might still be relevant.

Some of the major outcomes include a revision of the Charter, to reflect the fact that the organisation is interested in two major things: peace and security; and sustainable development. Two permanent organs will be established to this end, and Egypt is likely to host the peace and security organ.

As this is a developing story, with much of the material in French, watch this space over the next couple of weeks when the implications of a rising Chad will begin to unfold. For what it is worth, CENSAD’s next meeting will be in Morocco, which is itself making overtures to re-join the African Union.

In April 2012, I wrote of how there is talk of an ECCAS-ECOWAS-CENSAD free trade area along the likes of the Tripartite FTA (T-FTA) of SADC-COMESA-EAC that was mooted in 2008. With Central Africa only last week meeting and seeking concretely to rationalise its programmes for ECCAS and CEMAC to harmonise and merge, it is really exciting times for African integration!


In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233.268.687.653.


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