The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should as a matter of urgency fast track its integration process according to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking at the 48th ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Buhari stated that the most effective way to speed up the process is through accelerated and focused investments.
According to him, the investments must be in key sectors of the economy including but not limited to energy, transportation, road and rail networks.
He also noted that insufficient power supply had been identified as a major obstacle to investments in the region.
He said: “As we make individual efforts to boost power supply in our respective countries, we should accelerate the implementation of critical infrastructure such as the West African Gas Pipeline Project, while remaining committed to the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources.
“Urgent steps need to be taken to encourage intra-regional trade among member states in order to boost employment generation and trade relations.”
“As we celebrate today, let us not forget that beyond politics, the economic integration of our region must remain the fundamental objective of this Organisation.
He added that; we need to accelerate our efforts towards achieving monetary union by meeting the convergence criteria while member–states should strive to key into the Common External Tariff, which came into being this year.
“Internally, within the Commission and other institutions of the Community, there is an urgent need for structural reforms and capacity building in order to enhance efficiency, improve transparency and build confidence. Accountability and doing more with less should be the hallmark of the ECOWAS Commission.”
He stressed the need for the ECOWAS Parliament to be empowered to make laws rather than operating as an advisory body, while the ECOWAS Court of Justice should be strengthened to enable it deliver on its mandate.