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The end of 2015 marks the consummation of our Community’s forty years of existence. As for 2016, it will open a new page in our history which will be written mainly by the citizens. As a witness to this passage, we all have the responsibility of working, each at his level, to contribute to the actualisation of the ambition of our Community’s Founding Fathers, to create a borderless, peaceful and mutually inclusive region. Our shared values and common past, the development challenges we jointly face and our responsibility to posterity require, now more than ever before, that we join forces to succeed in the increasingly competitive world that we live in.

Four years have gone by since I came to head the Community institution which best symbolises our region’s desire for integration. A part of the team which I have led will see their terms of office come to an end in February 2016. Personally and on behalf of the concerned colleagues,   I wish to thank all who have contributed to the accomplishment of our mission. Naturally, I am thinking here of our Heads of State and Government by whose broad vision and directives we have always been guided. I am also thinking of our highly qualified experts from the sub-region, whose technical opinions have been as valuable to us as the support of regional, continental and international partners and the commitment of all the staff of our Community Institutions. Similarly, I am imminently satisfied with all that has been afforded me, in terms of innovative ideas and encouragement, from the discussions and interactions I was able to have, directly or through co-workers, with young people, women, farmers and members of economic groups, the media and civil society of West Africa.

Dear ECOWAS citizens,

We have good reasons to be satisfied with year 2015 given the smooth conduct of presidential and legislative elections in some of our Members States, in this case, Nigeria Togo, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, to mention in chronological order. The efforts deployed by Community Institutions to ensure open, credible and peaceful elections were not in vain. Similarly, the stabilisation efforts we undertook in Mali and Guinea Bissau have yielded fruit and will continue without respite, in order to make the results obtained permanent.

Among the advances recorded in 2015, we can mention the entry into force of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, revision process of our Protocols on the free movement of persons and goods to make them more effective and the recent adoption of the biometric identity card which will enable all ECOWAS citizens to move freely and affordably within the Community area. I am also pleased to mention the completion of negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement between West Africa and the European Union and the consensus obtained with regard to the Sahel Strategy which we shall implement along with CILSS.

Under our achievements, mention can also be made of the confidence we have inspired in our partners and which is evidenced in the signing of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), Regional Indicative Programme with the European Union, cooperation with the World Bank and several countries of the North, in addition to the development of cooperation with some emerging countries of South-East Asia and South America, for the implementation of meaningful programmes in our region.

These notwithstanding, I am particularly satisfied at the quasi-eradication of the Ebola Virus Disease which plunged us into mourning and cast a shadow of doubt over our region for some months.

All these tangible achievements today make ECOWAS, a respected Regional Economic Community throughout the world. However, they must not lead us to minimise the many challenges which still beset us.

Thus, in the area of peace and security, we must continue the fight against terrorism, maritime piracy and organised transnational crime, given the extremely strong link between security and economic performance.

Also, we must sustain the various projects launched in the areas of regional food security and sovereignty, regional infrastructure development, education, promotion of employment among youth and women, to mention but a few.

Furthermore, we must pursue the reforms we have started with the putting in place of instruments intended to ensure more principled management, in such a way as to make Community Institutions stronger, more efficient and closer to the people’s aspirations.

I am confident that we will bring to bear the required additional effort, to continue, with even more success, the inspiring work started 40 years ago, for the benefit of our people.

I would like to conclude my remarks by extending to each and every one of you, best wishes for happy end of year celebrations, good health, happiness and increasing prosperity throughout 2016.


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