News / Africa

    West African Leaders Discuss Trade Agreement with European Union

    Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara is ECOWAS chairman and host of two-day summit.
    Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara is ECOWAS chairman and host of two-day summit.
    Peter Clottey
    West African heads of state and government are meeting for a two-day summit beginning Friday in Ivory Coast to resolve issues regarding a decade of trade discussions with the European Union (EU).

    Officials of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) say the leaders will discuss an economic partnership agreement with EU and a number of other issues such as review regional security and the upcoming elections in Guinea Bissau.

    ECOWAS communications director Sonny Ugoh said West African leaders will seek to address concerns about the free trade agreement with the EU.

    How to create equality in European trade

    “They will be discussing the economic partnership agreement they have been discussing with the EU to create a free trade area for both regions that have been going for 10-12 years.

    "They will also be discussing the issue of maritime security,” said Ugoh.

    Some West Africans are expressing concerns about the economic partnership agreement with the EU. Skeptics say it will be to the region’s disadvantage and unlikely to improve the lives of citizens.They argue it is unfair because West African states will be exporting inexpensive raw materials and will still have to import expensive goods and services from Europe.

    “Understandably - because the discussions have been protracted - there have been a variety of perspectives. But, I can assure you that negotiations that are going on are on the basis of the assessment of what is best for member states, because member states are active in the process,” said Ugoh.

    “Whatever decision that will come out of the summit, you can be sure that it will be to the best interest of the region, and member states,” he said.

    A new chairman, Guinea's national elections

    Ugoh said high on the agenda is the need to select new ECOWAS leadership. The term of the current chairman, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, expires this year.

    “They will be electing a new chairman to replace President Ouattara who will be handing over after a very fruitful and illustrious and successful leadership of the community,” he said.

    Ugoh says the leaders will also focus on Guinea Bissau’s elections scheduled for next month.  ECOWAS member states raised about $20 million dollars to help the country administer its poll.

    “As part of the security review in the region, and for the elections in Guinea Bissau, they will also discuss to see how that [election] will go on,” said Ugoh.

    “Member states pledged funds to support Guinea Bissau to make sure that they have an election that is transparent that is free and fair that meets that standards for our democratic governance and that will enable Guinea Bissau to turn a new leaf.”

    West Africa's drug trafficking troubles

    The U.S. and EU have long charged that West African states are being used as transit points to traffic drugs from South America to Europe and beyond. Ugoh says regional leaders are working with their counterparts in West Africa to combat the menace.

    “Member states have been working to see how they can resolve it both bilaterally and with foreign partners,” said Ugoh. “We have a plan of action under which we…address the key issues that turned West Africa at one point into a transit zone for drugs.”
    Clottey interview with Sonny Ugoh, ECOWAS' Communications director
    Clottey interview with Sonny Ugoh, ECOWAS' Communications directori
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.