Friday, February 22, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Blogging

Oh the tomes! The tomes I have written in my head, and in my heart. Not to forget on paper, as well!;-)
Regrettably, the proverbial refrain of work has hit -- truly, madly, and deeply. And rather intensely.
As such, blogging has been light, and promises to be for the next w eek or so. Please bear with me.
I am still around!
Enjoy the weekend,
Keep safe. Keep cool.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Expansion, ECOBANK-Style

For a bank whose genesis is West African, it strikes as rather odd that a bank with the pedigree of ECOBANK would now only in 2008 be opening in the West African country of Gambia.

The news that it has joined the ranks of ECOWAS countres in which ECOBANK operates is great news. ECOBANK now covers all of the ECOWAS countries, reminding us first of its West African roots and, secondly, underscoring the importance of the its expansion into the eponymous role of a "Pan-African Bank".

One of ECOBANK's major tactics is in the acquisition of percentages of the banks in which it now operates. Speaking of which, let us remind ourselves that ECOBANK continues to expand --as exemplified by Ecobank's acquisition of 75% of no less than the East African Building Society Building.

The script runs that ECOBANK has a comparative advantage in mortgage financing, therefore this takeover is both useful in expanding respective portfolios and consolidatiung expertise.

Rememeber when ECOBANK opened a branch in Rwanda? I wondered whether this was carte blanche for the group's entry into East Africa? Well, it's a foregone conclusion now!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

This is the Way Regional Governance Should be Done

In my first Reflections on Regional Integration last year, I mentioned the importance of UN regional commissions playing a greater role in so-called regional governance--whatever form it may be expressed in. In my view, it is about the beginning of a harmonisation process between the regional organisations and the UN, which is so badly-needed.

It is therefore great stuff to read that the West African sub-regional grouping of ECOWAS is seeking to collaborate with the UN's regional commission on Africa, that is better known as UNECA.

Tongues have wagged between the head of these two organisations--Chambas and A Janneh, and it has become clear that they have

reiterated their determination to strengthen the existing partnership between their organisations, with the objective of consolidating the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the building bloc for Africa's integration.

We hear so much about the RECS and the RIAs, which are interchangeable terms to describe the regional groupings in their personality as economic entities, that if we are not carefu, we run the risk of being caughtnapping if we don't synergise. And when I talk about "we", I am referring to both citizens and policy-makers.

In my view, any arrangement of this sort that deflects attention away from the work of the UN should revise its note on the work that it does.

While talk is cheap, it is also an expensive enbdeavour for regional organisations to ignore the UN's regional commissions in the pursuit of what often looks like narrow-focused economic ones, which do not necessarily add value to the policies of the region.

That the ECA is intent on supporting ECOWAS towards the realisation nof a Strategic Vision adopted by ECOWAS Heads of State is a good start towards fostering a progressive look at regional integration--the way it should be done!