GNA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Saturday opened the 59th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and tasked the members to work towards security, peace and economic growth. He urged members to agree quickly on the issues of terrorism, violent extremism, democracy, security and health, which threatened to derail the stability of the sub-region.
The President called on the Community to deepen the integration process, the development of economic infrastructure and human capital bases to achieve a more stable and prosperous region.
The ECOWAS Chair also encouraged the members to support national and regional initiatives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, urging the bloc to make efforts to produce vaccines for the rapid economic recovery of the region.
“We cannot afford to be naked the next time,” he said in reference to the difficulty in acquiring vaccines by member states as the pandemic raged.
The Accra meeting will deliberate on the bloc’s 2021 Interim Report, the reports of the 46th Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council, and the 86th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, both held in Accra prior to the session.
It is being attended by 15 Heads of State in West Africa, except Mali, which has been suspended from the regional bloc following the recent political upheavals there.
The Summit will also consider special reports on the situation in Mali, the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme, Reform of the Community Institutions, the proposed mechanism of rotation of ECOWAS Member States’ Candidatures to the Chairmanship of the African Union, and the venue of 60th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the upsurge in terrorism, banditry and violent extremism in the sub-region affected the Community’s dignity and called for a collective and concerted commitment to ending those challenges.
“This concerted effort, which must be a major issue and a priority objective for the Community, is the best way for us to address the security challenge. It is a matter of dignity and sovereignty, which affects all nations in the region. None of our countries is insulated from the threats of terrorism,” he said.
The ECOWAS Chair drew attention to the growing threats to trade in the Community by acts of piracy that was destabilising maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and increasing the cost of importation of goods.
He said maritime centres across the Region should be operationalised to combat acts of piracy, adding: “We cannot hand over control of the Gulf of Guinea to pirates.”
On the COVID-19 pandemic, President Akufo-Addo said it was gratifying that national and regional efforts to contain and mitigate the disease had, so far, helped stem its impact on respective countries.
However, the Community should contribute more to the global discourse on the access and availability of vaccines for all the peoples of the world.
He noted that though all countries in the region had, through the COVAX initiative, taken delivery of some vaccines, supplemented by direct procurement by some Member States, the bloc must continue to work on the production of vaccines in the Region.
“We have to encourage Members of our Community, Nigeria, Senegal, and my own country, Ghana, which are making the effort to produce their own vaccines. We cannot afford to be naked the next time,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo thanked the Member States and the African Union for supporting Ghana’s recent successful candidature for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for 2022-2023.
He gave the assurance that “Ghana will make sure that Africa’s voice is heard loud and clear in the deliberations of the Security Council, both on matters affecting our Region and the Continent, and on global issues, and we will consult broadly to define Africa’s interests.”
Africa’s Common Position on UN Reform, based on the Ezulwini Consensus, the President said, was one matter Ghana was determined to push on the global agenda.
“We will work to solicit the backing of countries around the world for this long overdue reform. We believe it is time to correct the longstanding injustice that the current structure and composition of the UN Security Council represents for the nations of Africa,” he added.
The meeting has since gone into a closed session for deliberation on the set agenda.
A communique is expected to be issued at the end of the sitting.
Source: Ghana News Agency