Saturday, November 09, 2013

Why Ecobank must deliver for African citizens

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Friday, August 23, 2013

The UN Economic Commission for Africa wants to know YOUR views on Single AFRICAN currency

The decision by Africa to have a single currency has been a long-contested issue in African integration circles.

In 2009, the AU-sponsored First Congress of African Economists discussed it as a theme.

Today, on Facebook, UNECA's Joseph Atta-Mensa, working on a paper on that theme, asks your views on the topic. Is it feasible? Is it workable? Can be achieved on time, etc.

See you there!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A Reflection on the necessity of monitoring BURKINA Faso

Thanks to, I was compelled to put my thinking cap on (which I often like to leave off...): a  Ghanaian "friend" asked me a dicey, juicy question about Burkina Faso politics (the President there (Compaoré) has been in power since 1987) and the possibility of the President there tweaking the constitution to remain in power. 

A simple question brought about ramifications never thought possible: here's the case that ECOWAS Commission President is from Burkina; he is eyeing the Presidency himself in 2016. 

Small problem is that incumbent will step down in 2015 (in theory!) at a time when current ECOWAS President has to show his mettle that he presided over celebrations of ECOWAS' 40 years. So what does he do: try his luck at the Presidency of Burkina Faso -- or stay at ECOWAS and make an impact? Either way, Burkina is a country to watch in the sub-region in the next couple of years!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

COMMENT:"Communicating the ECOWAS Message (4): A New Roadmap for the Ouedraogo Commission(1)"

Communicating the ECOWAS Message (4): A New Roadmap for the Ouedraogo Commission(1)

'The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen
For the third time since its inception in 1975, ECOWAS is undergoing institutional reform. The first was when it revised its treaty on 24 July, 1993; the second was in 2007, when the Secretariat was transformed into a Commission. Professor Senghor, an authority on Sene-Gambian relations, quintessential Pan-Africanist; and former UN diplomat, speaks of the ECOWAS Treaty as 'the Bible' of where West Africa needs to be. In an ideal world, West African media ought to be agog with the 20 years of the revised Treaty. We settle for second-best today by touching on the outcomes of the 43rd Ordinary Session, as well as the significance of what a new 15-member Commission means for West African governance

Diplomats at the European Commission might not yet be quaking in their boots, because they have probably been so consumed by their arrogance for the institution they work for -- the permanent European civil service -- as setting the trend for the rest of the world, including for the emergence of the permanent West African Civil Service, or the ECOWAS Commission. But they should be a little worried, because the emergence of Commissioners for the other seven regional economic communities(RECs) of IGAD; SADC; COMESA; ECCAS; EAC; AMU; CENSAD might offer a double-edged sword for the EU's typical engagement with Africa. But that is another story!

Immediately upon hearing from a trusted and reliable source at the ECOWAS Commission that ECOWAS now has six new departments (Human Resources Management; Education, Science and Culture; Energy and Mines; Telecommunications and IT; Industry and Private Sector Promotion. Finance and Administration to Sierra Leone has been decoupled, to give the incoming Ghana Commissioner the new portfolio of Administration and Conferences), I sought to review my patchy notes on its European counterpart of the EU Commissioner.

Suffice-to-say, Wikipedia has quite a detailed account of what constitutes a European Commissionereven almost to salaries, and the percentage to which it is a reflection many times over of the European civil service grade. Most importantly, it covers how they are appointed; the Oath they are supposed to take; the history of the evolution of the European Commissioner; the extent to which they are accountable to European citizens; salaries; and finally which member state of the 28-member European Commission holds what portfolio. (I daresay there is no Wikipedia entry yet of an ECOWAS Commissioner. Any takers?).

The emergence of an ECOWAS Commissioner
Setting up a Wikipedia stub on an 'ECOWAS Commissioner' will not be a problem; it is just a matter of getting committed people to do adequate research on what entails an official becoming an ECOWAS Commissioner (even against the odds of scant information in the capitals of member states on the institutional development of ECOWAS' architecture). If we lived in a perfect world, we should by now have sufficient information in all member states about the Ecowas Treaty; the evolution of ECOWAS from a Secretariat to a Commission in 2007; and finally, the build-up to the newly-expanded Commission, which is highly significant.

This is because it sets a precedent for a veritable and permanent West African civil service, for in the same way the European Commissioners are equivalent to national ministers, so will this expansion signify an attempt by West Africa to have its own national ministers as well. As to the extent to which they remain accountable to the ECOWAS Parliament and other Community institutions are important indicators of the future of any kind of West African governance. 

If we quickly look at the revised Ecowas Treaty of 1993, article 20 enjoins staff of the Community to ensure that 'in the performance of their duties, the [erstwhile] Executive Secretary, the Deputy Executive Secretaries, and other staff of the Community shall owe their loyalty entirely and be accountable only to the Community'. It continues 'In this regard, they shall neither seek nor accept instructions from any government or any rational or international authority external to the Community.' What article 20 does not say is what happens when staff of the Community is found to have breached this article. Are there any sanctions that will be meted out to them? For example, could they be accountable to the ECOWAS Parliament and/or to the Community Court of Justice?

In my view, what this can only serve to remind us about is this: until and unless the ECOWAS Commission begins to fast-track synergy with the ECOWAS Parliament, it will be a great deal easier for ECOWAS staff to be bullied by Eurocrats, who, along with their interests, are explicitly 'external to the [ECOWAS] Community'. 

Professor Senghor's suggestion for all West African citizens, including policy-makers, through to the average Community citizen to pay attention to the revised ECOWAS Treaty, which turns 20 this week, cannot go unheeded at a critical juncture when institutional changes are taking place at the ECOWAS Commission and ECOWAS turns 40 only in 2 years time!

In 2009, in his capacity as a 'Do More Talk Less Ambassador' of the 42nd Generationan NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233-268.687.653.

Source: Emmanuel K. Bensah Jr.
Story from Modern Ghana News:

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

GIABA, and Why Ghana must support ratification of 2005 protocol establishing CIIB in West Africa

The GIABA Meeting should remind Ghana to support ratification of 2005 protocol establishing Criminal Investigative Intelligence Bureau for West Africa
'The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen':
By E.K.Bensah Jr

In February 2013, I wrote a piece entitled 'Where is the ECOWAS Sahel Strategy to Secure & Protect West Africa from Criminals? In October 2012, I penned an article entitled 'Mission: ECOWAS has a responsibility to protect West Africa from Criminals.' It summarized and reprised arguments from previous articles I had written about ECOWAS and its responsibility to secure the sub-region.

Back in October 2011, I wrote yet-again another, entitled 'Time for ECOWAS to Ratify the Criminal Investigative Intelligence Bureau'. The idea behind the piece was to argue that free movement is great for the ECOWAS sub-region, but comes at a cost - cross-border crime. The provision of free movement is possible thanks to the Protocol on Free Movement, Right of Residence and Establishment which was adopted in 1979. In 1980, ECOWAS members would ratify the first phase of the Protocol guaranteeing free entry of citizens from member states without visa for ninety days.

I also touched on how West African leaders, working through ECOWAS, had made significant strides on combating drug trafficking, crime; and what I described as 'all the attendant vices associated with un-policed porous borders'

ECOWAS structures for securing peace GIABA included!

At the sub-regional level, ECOWAS has a number of structures that are helping rein in what might otherwise be a chaotic sub-region. These include the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drugs trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse; ECOWAS Committees of Chiefs of Security Services, and Chiefs of Defence Staff; WAPCCO; and GIABA.

Backed by the Canada-based 'The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre', the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Security Services has assisted ECOWAS since May 2009 to create a committee that ensures proper communication and coordination efforts with member states on the police component of the African Standby Force and other regional security issues. The committee is now funded by the ECOWAS Commission's regular annual budget and meets twice a year.

The ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staffan exclusively military componentreviews security in the sub-region through quarterly meetings. The most recent meeting was some two weeks ago when they met to discuss the character of the African-led International Force in Mai (AFISMA).

The ECOWAS agency that is the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money-Laundering, or GIABA, is responsible for the prevention and control of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the West African Sub-Region. Critical to its mandate is the 'improvement of measures and intensifying efforts to combat the laundering of proceeds of crime in West Africa'. Incidentally, GIABA happens to be one of the ECOWAS agencies associated with Kofi Annan's newly-established West Africa Commission on the Impact of Drugs on Governance, Security and Development (WACD).

ECOWAS's formulation of a regional response through their Political Declaration of 2005 (that put forward the idea of establishing a criminal investigative intelligence bureau) has helped nip the problem in the bud. However, considering the fact that that the Criminal Investigative Intelligence Bureau (CIIB) had been proposed as far back as 2002 by Ghana for a meeting of the INTERPOL-backed West Africa Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) in Abidjan, the challenge would have been better dealt with had member states resolved to establish the-said CIIB.

While ECOWAS community citizens continue to enjoy free movement in the sub-region, this is a region that has played host to internecine conflicts especially in the Mano River Union, such as the Liberian conflict of 1990 that prompted the intervention of ECOMOG. I wrote back in October 2011, 'add to that the porous border, the free movement of mercenaries, coupled with small arms trafficking and the recruitment of child soldiers and fighters to the cross-border crimes and we have ourselves a potential powder-keg that needs significant monitoring through significant systems of intelligence - as proposed by the yet-to-be-ratified CIIB'.

Although the intensity of the Mali conflict has died down - at least away from the glare of the media - there is no gainsaying that 2013 continues to be a year in which ECOWAS has not completed its work in Northern Mali; neither done with piracy nor the Sahel crisis. These are new elements forcing ECOWAS to take the bull by the horns on factoring not just the visceral peace and security instruments it is so used to, but a law-enforcement perspective that is sufficiently holistic to secure and protect West Africans from criminals and miscreants.

Way Forward for ECOWAS
At a time when African integration observers are talking of both the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and a putative Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)-ECOWAS-CENSAD free trade area (along the lines of the tripartite COMESA-EAC-SADC free-trade area), this second FTA is unlikely to go anywhere quickly without ECOWAS getting very serious on distinguishing between what I would call 'hard'(war; drug-trafficking; human-trafficking) and 'soft'(cross-border and petty crime) conflict. 

It is very encouraging to read of Joint Border Patrols in the sub-regionas prescribed by the INTERPOL-backed West African Police Chiefs Committee. A recent conference by the Mano River Union countries only two weeks ago that was held in Liberia re-visited the idea of Joint Border Patrols as a way of securing their borders. Coming from a micro-region that served as a catalyst for ECOWAS' first-ever intervention in West Africa under ECOMOG, this can only be good news that West Africa is capable of managing its own affairs.

I continue to press that ECOWAS might not have had the foresight of establishing a West African law enforcement mechanism (like the EU did with EUROPOL with respect to the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992) the very moment the Treaty of Lagos was revised in 1993 to reflect the current challenges of ECOWAS, but it can never be too late, I wrote in October 2011, 'to rectify the imperative of a sub-regional police force along the likes of INTERPOL or EUROPOL'. ECOWAS's imperative and comparative strengths on peace, security, and conflict prevention ought to give it the necessary impetus to bring to fruition the belated 'ECOWASPOL'/CIIB the sub-region so desperately needs to secure the region for its citizens.

In 2009, in his capacity as a 'Do More Talk Less Ambassador' of the 42nd Generationan NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233-268.687.653.

Source: Emmanuel K. Bensah Jr.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enter the Chad Dragon in the ECOWAS-CENSAD region!

Back in October 2011, my piece “Hot Issues on the AU needing popular advocacy (I) – or Travelling Cheaply in Africa, & Southern Sudan touched briefly on CENSAD. I started off with a history of CENSAD, going on to ask the way forward.
The Community of Sahel-Saharan States was established in 1998 by the late Colonel Qaddafi. After the rationalization of the regional economic communities in 2006, it became an AU-REC – that is one of the eight RECs mandated and recognized by the African Union. It has twenty-eight members, and Ghana is a member.

Despite many meetings that had taken place and a then-fully-functioning website on, the uprising that started in Libya in March threw a huge spanner in the works of the organisation, effectively throwing the regional grouping out of sync with the other RECs at its base in Tripoli. Regrettably, the conspicuous absence of the African Union itself on the future of CENSAD has not helped dispel the notion that the AU is nothing more than a “toothless” bulldog.

The passing of Qaddafi, I intoned, has effectively taken the wind out of the sails of CENSAD, probably throwing all the good work – including the Great Green Wall being built along the sub-region to protect the region from climate change; as well as the establishment of a free-trade area of ECOWAS-UEMOA-CENSAD/ECOWAS-CENSAD/ECCAS along the likes of the SADC-COMESA-EAC tripartite free trade area, which was mooted in 2008.

Going forward, I would expect to see the AU taking serious the need to engage the National Transitional Council in Libya on their commitments to the African Union. This would include discussions on Libya and where it stands on the establishment of the AU-mandated and Tripoli-hosted African Investment Bank, as well as the state of play of CEN-SAD, and how it can be factored into discussions of Africa’s ongoing discussions over Africa’s integration.

In January 2013, an organisation by the name of Centre 4S, which is based in Morocco, and which researches defence and security in the Sahelo-Saharian band /strip; armed violence and terrorism, among other subjects, released a paper in French entitled “Revitaliser le CENSAD”, or reinvigorating CENSAD.

The main idea of the paper is to look at the critical role CENSAD can play in the Sahel; ways in which cooperation and synergy can be created around the zone, and ways in which there can be strengthened cross-border cooperation.

Truth be told, the uniqueness of CENSAD is in its ability to merge ECOWAS; Arab Maghreb Union and ECCASS countries together. The article maintains that the contribution that CENSAD offers its member states ought to be re-examined. Furthermore, the crisis in Mali has set an important precedent for the member states to really get serious on what can be done to use the body as a tool for securing the region politically and diplomatically.

The paper states that “CENSAD should present itself as an institutional and diplomatic framework, of unity and action, capable of formulating a pertinent response, inclusive and varied, to current security challenges.” Even more important for a reinvigorated and re-launched CENSAD should be the aspiration to complement ECOWAS and the Arab Maghreb Union, especially as they are two RECs most-familiar with the security deficits of the Sahel region. These efforts will “equally allow for a better coherence and coordination of different initiatives on the Sahel”, such as Algeria’s Joint Military Command with Mali; Niger; and Mauritania.

Chad rising, Chad in ECOWAS?
Chad is a Central African country and a member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Some wonder why it should not also become a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) According to one Elvis Kodjo, writing in, 'although the idea has not been officially announced, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Moussa Mahamat Dago indicated on 19 January 2012 in Abidjan during a celebration of Chad's 50th anniversary that the issue was currently being considered.”
The idea for joining rests with the fact that Chad has emerged from several decades of unrest, and understands “more than any other African country that “African integration is necessary for its development”.
The fact is that since the start of oil production in 2005, “Chad has become the ninth largest African oil producer and has improved its network of roads, which has expanded from 200 to more than 3 000 km. Plans for a new, ultramodern airport are underway, and a railroad linking the country to Cameroon will soon be constructed”. Kodjo maintains that “while being a veritable construction site, Chad also has forty million hectors of arable land”.
In order to encourage the effective use of this land, the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mahamat has said that the country “has equipped itself with a particularly attractive investment code” and is looking to secure the best opportunities for itself by diversifying its economic partners in both Central and West Africa.
In March 2011, Chad was, in fact, granted observer status of ECOWAS and my monitoring of Chad's wooing suggests that Chadian President Idris Deby is still keen on sweet-talking Jonathon—in his capacity as leader of the regional hegemon, Nigeria—to accept Chad as a full member of ECOWAS. In April 2012, I was quick to speculate that it is unlikely to happen soon, given the instability in the Sahel region and the headaches of Mali and Guinea-Bissau. All that can be said for now is for observers to keep a keen eye on Chad making “incursions” into ECOWAS sooner than later.
Then Mali happens. And suddenly, we are confronted with a Chad that is offering support to the Africa-led support mission in Mali (AFISMA) to the tune of around 3000 troops, which is around a third of what all ECOWAS troops have offered.

One of the reasons why Chad is an important country to look out for is for what happened on Saturday 16 February when Chad’s president Idris Deby hosted some eleven leaders of the CENSAD regional economic community that was established in 1998. The capital N’djamena played host to what should have been 20 members of the populous grouping. Even if a little over a third of the Heads of State showed up, it was encouraging to see that the 17 other member states dispatched representatives. Furthermore, it has shown that the raison d’être for the establishment of the grouping might still be relevant.

Some of the major outcomes include a revision of the Charter, to reflect the fact that the organisation is interested in two major things: peace and security; and sustainable development. Two permanent organs will be established to this end, and Egypt is likely to host the peace and security organ.

As this is a developing story, with much of the material in French, watch this space over the next couple of weeks when the implications of a rising Chad will begin to unfold. For what it is worth, CENSAD’s next meeting will be in Morocco, which is itself making overtures to re-join the African Union.

In April 2012, I wrote of how there is talk of an ECCAS-ECOWAS-CENSAD free trade area along the likes of the Tripartite FTA (T-FTA) of SADC-COMESA-EAC that was mooted in 2008. With Central Africa only last week meeting and seeking concretely to rationalise its programmes for ECCAS and CEMAC to harmonise and merge, it is really exciting times for African integration!


In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233.268.687.653.