The issue of regional food security dominates the agenda of a one-day
summit of West African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria. Gilbert da Costa is
attending the meeting, where leaders are worried about the impact of
the rising global food and oil prices.
A pre-conference report
issued by Economic Community of West African States says persistent
high food and oil prices remain a huge challenge to growth and
macro-economic stability in west Africa.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf warned the soaring cost of basic food items could
have grave security consequences for the impoverished region.
Chairman, we are all mindful that our efforts and successes at
sustainable growth and development will suffer irreparably if the rise
in oil and food prices continues," she said. "A hungry stomach is
quick to anger and will disrupt the peace we need to develop."
Africa has made steady economic progress in the past three years. An
ECOWAS report says gross domestic product is expected to reach a record
$232 billion in 2008 with a growth rate of more than five percent.
experts warn all the gains could be wiped out if urgent steps are not
taken to ease the impact of the food and energy prices.
Out of the 15 members of ECOWAS, only Nigeria and Ivory Coast produce and export oil.
representative of the U.N. Secretary General, Sa'id Djinnit, says
radical changes are required in agricultural practices in the region.
are clearly external factors to the crisis, relating to the
international economic environment," he said. "But there are also
internal factors to African countries that contributed to the
marginalization of agriculture. These combined factors contributed to
creating a paradoxical situation where in every African country, people
consume what they do not produce and produce what they do not consume."
report on the status of implementation of regional programs,
particularly those on free movement of persons, goods and right of
establishment and residence as well as the security situation is also
being considered at the summit.