The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with GIZ, within the framework of the Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) Programme, held a capacity-building workshop on Trade Facilitation and Advocacy for Journalists in Lagos – Nigeria from 4 – 8 July 2022.
International Trade plays an important role in the creation of wealth, economic growth and job creation. However, African countries, including ECOWAS Member States, contribute less than 3% of the total share of global trade. For a more inclusive participation, International Trade Agreements and related initiatives require a better understanding by West African Non-State Actors including Civil Society Organizations and Media.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade at the ECOWAS Commission, on behalf of Mr. Tei KONZI, Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons, highlighted the key role of the Media in informing and educating the public on government interventions, thereby promoting accountability. The availability of information is also critical to ensuring that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are able to take advantage of the benefits of various trade agreements and initiatives. Before declaring the workshop open, Mr. SOFOLA stated that the ECOWAS Commission is committed to strengthening the partnership with the Media by continuously building their capacity and ability to advocate on trade issues.
On behalf of GIZ, Mr. Bernard TAYO, Head of Component of the TFWA Programme, said that Media are essential partners that ECOWAS can leverage on to further disseminate the achievements and efforts undertaken by the Community. He added that the training will contribute in creating a network of journalists and media actors knowledgeable on trade and trade related issues to help citizens monitor the trade liberalization within the ECOWAS Region. He commended the ECOWAS Commission for supporting the initiative which shows its willingness to ensure that all the stakeholders groups are associated in the regional integration process.
The one-week training programme strengthened the capacity of representatives of the Media from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Participants were introduced to key concepts from International and Regional Trade Agreements and Instruments, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), and the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET). Participants also considered the Gender dimension of Trade and Trade Facilitation, as well as structural impediments that has limited the implementation of the regional trade facilitation agenda. In addition to technical understanding, participants were also provided with trade advocacy methodology and techniques.
The Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) Programme, which is chaired by the ECOWAS Commission with the support of the UEMOA Commission, is a multi-donor programme funded by the European Union, the United Nations Agency for International Development (USAID), the Netherlands and Germany. The Programme is aimed at supporting the region to improve the free and efficient movement of goods regionally and internationally, through reduction of cost and time of trading across borders, is being implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the World Bank Group.