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ECOWAS member states urged to mainstream regional programmes into national development plans

news038_1ECOWAS Member States have been encouraged to integrate regional progammes and aspirations in their national development plans to facilitate the realization of the overarching objective of regional economic development and integration.

“Where the political will is strong, it should be easier for a country to draw up its national development plans, strategies and programmes with regional considerations,” Mr. Essien Abel Essien, Director of ECOWAS Strategic Planning Directorate said at the opening of the inaugural National Planning Experts meeting in Lagos on Wednesday 18th February 2015.

Acknowledging that due to internal problems and competing demands on their limited resources, “many countries tend to put much more emphasis on national than on regional projects,” the director however, said the ideal situation is for countries to “ensure efficient coordination between the objectives and instruments of regional integration and national policy making.”

“ECOWAS requires a planning process that is participatory and inclusive,” he said, explaining that this reason informed the gathering of national planning experts to deliberate on the methodology for facilitating the coordination and integration of regional aspirations into national plans.

Mr. Essien said that while experience in the past had shown that governments and inter-governmental organizations had “generally dominated and monopolized the dialogue on integration, there is emerging recognition of the need to involve civil society in the process because an integration process that involves civil society stands a much better chance of success.” This explains the invitation of civil society organizations such as the West African Network for Peace building (WANEP), West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) and the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) to the meeting.

He told the experts that the region was at a crucial stage of development and the actualization of the ECOWAS Vision 2020, adding: “with collective action we can steer the course of integration, using the instrumentality of the Community Strategic Framework (CSF) towards the actualization of the dreams of our founding fathers.”

In his welcome address, Mr. Tunde Lawal, Director of Micro-economic Analysis, in Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Planning reiterated the benefits of bringing regional perspectives into national planning.

He therefore urged participants to come up with concrete recommendations for the domestication of regional plans and policies for coordinated regional development and integration.

The three-day meeting will among others, discuss the harmonization and integration of the Community Strategic Framework (CSF 2016-2020) into national plans as well as development planning and the modality for a comprehensive stakeholder consultation exercise in Member States on the CSF.

It is also expected to establish a regional structure for mainstreaming regional programmes into national planning efforts and come up with guidelines on integrating and managing regional integration at the national level.

As part of efforts for the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 of a citizen-oriented integrated community, a Regional Strategic Plan (RSP) was adopted in June 2010, involving identification of a set of programmes including community projects to be undertaken up to 2020.

The Community Strategic Framework, which is the RSP successor plan, provides overall direction with respect to Community goals, principles of engagement with stakeholders and guidance to Community institutions/agencies in the design and preparation of their strategic plans.

Dircetorate of Communications

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