Friday, August 10, 2007

ECOWAS -- The "Mother of all Regional Economic Communities in Africa"? (So Says EAC)

At least, this was what the visiting ambassador from the East African Community, Julius Onen, to the ECOWAS Commission on 24 July said. He is reputed to have said this when he was "exposed" to the ECOWAS Operational system.

This was no ordinary visit. It was one from no less than the five-member East African Community, which recently accepted Rwanda and Burundi in its fold. What is most significant about this visit is that it goes to underscore the very essence of the regional integration I had been adavocatinig ever since I started this blog, and way back in 2004, when I set up RegionsWatch.

It was conceived of, inter alia, as a way of sharing information about different kinds of regionalisms. To see that even without my instrumentality, this is happening(!) is a very positive sign. Maybe. it's possible that the long enough you preach your word out there on the internet, the more likely someone, somewhere is going to see and pass the word on;-) Someone might be patting their back for promoting this exchange, I'm sure!

Either way, it is all-so-exciting to see such important developments, and when these are expressed through information sharing and best practices, it becomes all the more interesting...and uncanny!

Best practices on regional integration are not new; the UN's Economic Commission for Africa created the Assessing Regional Integration in Africa(ARIA) as a way of doing just that.

In my estimation, however, it had served more to use ARIA as a way of monitoring and evaluating regional integration than using it to look at best practices in regional integration.

Either way, I'm grinning like a chesire-cat at the idea that suddenly, as if by magic, it is being discussed in no less than a place like ECOWAS that has moved progressively on communicating what it does to the ECOWAS citizens--and beyond--albeit in a painfully slow manner.

A quick look at the Communications department of the ECOWAS Commission reveals some interesting ideas about where ECOWAS would like to see itself. As to the operationalisation of these ideas, one lives in hope. It is good to see that some of the following have been slated:


· The West African Bulletin

· ECOWAS in Brief

· Publication on ECOMOG

· Brochure on the new ECOWAS Commission

Coming back specifically to the context of the press release from the newly-designed ECOWAS Commission website, it is important to disclose one very important piece of information about the future of EAC-ECOWAS relations, as well as the EAC itself:

Ambassador Onen disclosed the EAC’s plans to transform into a commission and
intensify its collaboration with African States and RECs as evidenced by the
bi-annual tripartite meetings with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

I've blogged a number of times about the EAC, and quite a few times about ECOWAS.

The last comparison I made between EAC and ECOWAS yielded in this post. It was all about communication.

I'm glad to be blogging about something more concrete now. Let's keep fingers crossed for more of these positive developments!!

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