By Lizzy Okoji and Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni
Abuja – The ECOWAS Commission said on Monday that the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) would add value to agricultural products and boost sub-regional and international trade.
Mr Kolawole Sofola, the Principal Programme Officer, Directorate of Trade, ECOWAS Commission made this known during a Media advocacy meeting in Abuja.
Sofola said that the media had a very critical role to play in sensitising the public and beneficiaries to the objectives and gains of the programmme.
WACOMP is a 120 million Euros project which will be implemented over a period of five years across the West African sub-region with a focus on two major objectives, namely: to improve performance, growth, and contribution to industry, regional trade and exports of selected value chains, and to improve the business climate at the national and sub-regional levels.
He said that the programme which implementation began a year ago consists of one sub-regional component and sixteen national components which are the 15 ECOWAS member states and Mauritania.
Sofola explained that the selected value chains at the national and sub-regional levels would promote structural transformation and better access to ECOWAS and international markets, taking into recognition social and environmental concerns.
“Under the West Africa Competitiveness Programme, at the regional level we are focusing on Mango, Cassava and its derivatives, Textile and garments and Information and Communication Technology as a horizontal value chain.
“We are focusing on this because we know they have regional opportunities to add values across West Africa, whereby one country may have a comparative advantage at a particular stage.
“And then value will be added through various processing stages across West Africa.
“These products have been strategically chosen, either that we are consuming them, or we have high production capacity, they generate employment opportunities.
“And we believe these are variety value chains to be used for this particular project.
“We are also aware that they are other priorities for both Nigeria and other economies but these are not to be undertaken under this particular programme.
“Under WACOMP we also have the Nigerian component, so Nigeria has its own allocation of 10 million been implemented with the support of the German Development Agency (GIZ).
“Nigeria selected its own value chain and we would seek to support Nigeria in the implementation of its national component.
“Whereby we also find synergy between what Nigeria is doing for example in textile and garments on the national level and what we would be doing on textile and garments at the regional levels”, Sofola said.
According to Sofola, the ECOWAS Commission, under its trade office believes that the programme will bring complementarity and synergy rather than unhealthy competition among countries.
The programme officer said that several sub- regional initiatives had been put in place to ensure the success of the programme and to enhance regional trade and integration.
He said that measures were also put in place to ensure that the products met required international standards to avoid rejection at the countries of destination.
Also speaking, Miss Natasha Aniekwu, Chief Technical Adviser, WACOMP Abuja said that as an implementing agency of WACOMP, ITC would introduce technological tools to improve regional data information.
She said that the technological tools would also be used to harness trade market intelligence and provide trade solutions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WACOMP is funded the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission.