The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday stressed the need for member states to create more jobs through its current economic reforms in the sub-region.
It equally charged member states to pursue the policy of more resilient economies.
Unemployment, especially among the youth folks, in ECOWAS has been a longstanding problem and it is believed to be the biggest force behind irregular migration to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.
Ecowas countries has recently seen a high tide of youth exodus through the Mediterranean Sea route with countries like The Gambia registering over 20 000 youth export in 2014 alone.
The new job creation plan, according to ECOWAS heads of states, could be done through structural reforms, implementing sound macroeconomic policies, and ensuring diversification of economies.
In a communique issued at the end of the 48th ordinary session of the authority of ECOWAS heads of state and government in Abuja, published on This Day Live, the body canvassed for the establishment of the common market.
In the communiqué, it agreed on the need to increase the volume of intra- community trade, make the free movement of persons and goods a reality and pay particular attention to strategic sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, energy and human capital.
“The authority calls on the commission to pursue the harmonisation of sectoral policies and take all necessary measures to support the effective implementation of programmes under these different sectors.
“The authority reaffirms the importance of employment, education, health and social protection in national development strategies and urges member states to sustain their job creation efforts, particularly for young people, by promoting public and private investments in all areas,” the communique read.
The community pledged to pursue, through the implementation of relevant regional policies, the improvement of food and nutritional security as well as sustainable natural resource management.
It also welcomed the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate and the opportunity afforded by “this universal, differentiated and legally binding Agreement with the aim of enhancing member states capacities to address climate change challenges for a more resilient region.”
It also vowed to provide, through unity of purpose and in a more proactive way, appropriate responses to the various security threats in the region, particularly terrorism, violent extremism, maritime piracy, trafficking and other forms of organised transnational crimes.However, the body conceded the position of president of the commission to the Republic of Benin and the position of Vice- President to the Republic of The Gambia.
It directed the Presidents of the Republics of Benin and The Gambia to propose to the current Chairman the nomination of one their nationals for these positions from March 2016 to February 2018
Meanwhile, free movement of persons, goods, inauguration of Biometric Identity Cards and integration of West Africa countries is also expected to begin on Jan. 1, 2016.
President of ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadré Ouedraogo, said this at the end of 48th Ordinary Session of Authority of Heads of States and Governments of the commission in Abuja on Thursday.
Ouedraogo also said the commission would prevent dress codes that obstruct identification of individuals by security personnel in order to detect terrorists/suicide bombers.
Ouedraogo said these were part of decisions of the summit, explaining that the implementation would be at national levels.
“The summit focused on security issues, mainly the fight against terrorism, and exchanged views and experiences on how best to tackle violent extremism.
“Member states are encouraged to take measures to forbid dress codes that will not allow security personnel to be sure of an individual’s identity.
“These measures are to facilitate identification of individuals because sometimes some terrorists’ acts can be under the cover of certain dress codes that do not allow identification.
“Implementation is at the national levels, but ECOWAS has discussed the matter and the Heads of States and Government have recommended this measure to all member states”, he said.
Ouedraogo said the summit also agreed on the January 2016 deadline to launch the Biometric Identity Cards which is expected to enhance free movement and integration.
He said the issuance of the cards would be at the level of each member state.
“It will be a common card to be used by all citizens and issuance would start from Jan. 1, 2016, but it is the responsibility of member states to issue the card to their citizens.
“We hope that most of the states would start on the set date to issue the cards.
“These cards will also serve as travel documents and they will replace the resident permit and citizens can live and reside in any ECOWAS country without giving any other document.
“This is a new integration process,” he said.
The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo attended in persons while presidents of Niger, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and Liberia were represented.
Other participants included representatives of United Nations, the European Union, and members of the diplomatic corps among other partner organisations.
Highlights of the two-day summit included the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of ECOWAS.
A presentation of the specimen of the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card to the Heads of States and Government was also done by the commission’s president. (NAN)