Accra,- Mr Komi Abitor, Chairperson, Network of National Platforms of NGOs in West and Central Africa (REPAOC), says the raging COVID-19 has rendered the operations of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) uncertain and complex.
The COVID-19, a new challenge, he said was making the context of working in the CSOs space more complex, with evolving negative effects on the economy, population and activities.
“Is not a secret to anyone at the frame in which CSOs are becoming uncertain and making the matter of development delicate,” he said. “The new challenge has brought a lot on the economy and difficult to undertake development programmes.”
Mr Abitor was speaking at the opening of the 2nd Sub-Regional Consultative and Experience Sharing Workshop with National CSO platforms on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Accra on Monday.
The engagement with CSOs was hailed as a timely opportunity to raise awareness of and increase the participation of national Non-Governmental Organisations / CSO platforms in West African countries in the governance of EPA in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Mr Abitor urged Ghanaian counterparts in the CSO space to take advantage of the facilities and efforts that had contributed to Ghana being removed from the blacklist imposed by the European Union.
To facilitate consultation between National CSO Platforms of the 15 ECOWAS countries, the two-day workshop funded by the EU will be expected to discuss the experiences of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in terms of tools and means for monitoring EPAs.
Organised by the Ghana Association of Private Voluntary Origin Development (GAPVOD), it would also examine issues and challenges relating to the EPA and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the sub-region.
The meeting was facilitated with the support of partners, in particular, the Group of Research and Technological Exchanges (GRET) and Cote d’Ivoire Civil Society Convention (CSCI), it brought together 30 participants, including 15 leaders of national CSO platforms of countries from ECOWAS.
Topics tabled for discussion include the Economic Partnership Agreement and African Continental Free Trade Area: what are the issues at stake for West Africa; the national and international challenges of EPA’s for the West African sub-region and the EPA’s and sub-regional integration.
Speaking on behalf of Mr Mahamadou Kouma, National Coordinator of Ivorian Civil Society Convention, Mrs Alide N’dri Tano, Head of Citizen Monitoring Project of the EPA in Ivory Coast, said there had been a vivid emotion among CSOs.
She said the workshop was an opportunity to elaborate all strategies explored, shared and adopt policies for the common national choice, adding, “It will represent the economic space of the ECOWAS.”
Mr John Dei, the Chairman of GAPVOD, described the meeting as a clear manifestation of the efforts and commitment of REPAOC, their sub-regional umbrella organisation and that would help partners not only to strengthen collaboration but work towards enhancing the capacities of civil society actors to play their roles effectively on the task ahead.
He said their national platform would continue to monitor and seek avenues to provide insights into their constituent civil society actors, policymakers and legislators.
Mr Dei urged participants to take advantage of the workshop and national platform that would equip them with the tools, learning and insights to enable them to develop the capacity to engage effectively on the EPAs.
The EPAs became topical from the early 2000s with civil society in the South especially leading with its objection and echoing the fears and apprehensions of industry, agriculture, poor farmers and the citizenry.
Source: Ghana News Agency