Africa > West Africa > Regional Resource Development

West Africa: Regional Resource Development

2012/12/16

ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) is a 15-member regional bloc founded in 1975 to promote cooperation and trade within West Africa. We would like to use resources at the disposal of ECOWAS– an institution which often commits funds to developmental projects within member nations–to further Niger’s capacity for sustainable economic and social growth. PAN and ECOWAS’s vision for the region are shared in many respects, thus cooperation with ECOWAS would be relatively easy should PAN’s policies be adopted.

Regional Resource Development

ECOWAS concerns itself two goals within Regional Resource Development

  1. .Increased access to trade and market opportunities for all members of ECOWAS nations, particularly insofar as it empowers women and children

.Promoting environmental sustainability and use of renewable resources

One of the significant barriers to achieving this goal for ECOWAS is the lack of infrastructural support for trade activity on a national level. A marked absence of roads was the focus of the study in “Obstacles to Increased ECOWAS Trade” (194) and was identified as one of the primary reasons why there have been few results from ECOWAS initiatives in previous decades. PAN’s strategic plan is to redirect resources towards developing infrastructure (i.e. roads, community centers, etc.) that can facilitate trade on a national and regional level. PAN’s economic focus aligns with ECOWAS’s primary goal of economic integration in the West African region—by increasing investment in market-serving infrastructure we are increasing opportunities for trade, and reducing non-tariff barriers to trade that have hindered economic growth in the ECOWAS region in the past. Furthermore, our co-operative-focused approach promotes gender-equal access to market and trade. In “Efficiency and Equity: The ‘Empresas Recuperadas’ of Argentina” (90) it is notable that cooperatives generate a higher degree of equity in wealth distribution amongst members than private-owned, hierarchically-managed firms.

For more information regarding how PAN plans on encouraging the efficient and sustainable use of environment and natural resources, please see “Ecology”.

Peace and Security

With the United Nations having named 2012 the “International Year of Co-operatives” we can plainly see the value placed on co-operatives by international institutions. Co-operatives are, by reputation, vessels through which channels of communication are opened to foster peace and security. Cooperatives have been instrumental in peacebuilding and creating bridges of communication in areas of conflict or ethnic division. In Sri Lanka and Nepal, co-operatives have been the only independent organizations allowed by all parties to operate in conflict zones. In post-conflict areas, cooperatives also play a crucial role in restoring both the economy and civil society (United Nations 64th Session of the General Assembly).

PAN hopes, also, to mitigate the peace and security threats faced by Niger through its Refugee plan, which will tackle the issue of the Mali refugee crisis in the west, and its environmental sustainability initiatives. These sustainability initiatives are crucial in avoiding a food crisis like the one experienced in Niger in 2005.

Governance

ECOWAS intends to promote the ethical and equal access to media as a means of streamlining governance structures amongst West African countries. Stable governance increases opportunities for economic integration and trade between nations. PAN hopes to redirect focus of government investment into communication infrastructure—see our “Pathways to Information Plan”—which will increase access to information across the large agricultural sector of Niger. PAN’s goal is to unite the population of Niger under the premise of economic and social growth, and thus put pressure on local government bodies to create a more accountable system of governance at the national and regional level. The importance of group action in pursuing change is evident in various historical rural movements, in particular the SEWA movement of India which empowered women and increased their voice in the regional bargaining process (“From Development to Empowerment: The Self-Employed Women’s Association in India”, 356) by establishing itself as a union to protect the rights and benefits of its members.

Economic and Monetary Integration

Part of ECOWAS’s economic and monetary framework requires the “harmonization of national macroeconomic, monetary and fiscal policies” through the establishment of a banking and integrated payment system. PAN has managed to reconcile this goal in its proposition of creating a micro-credit loan system to finance the initiatives of small business owners and entrepreneurs who are members of the PAN network. These systems are grassroots efforts to establish a working banking and loan system in Niger.

Levels of individual financial responsibility and accountability are also heightened when microfinancing is done through a group microfinance initiative (“Microfinance in Africa: Combining the Best Practices of Traditional and Modern Microfinance Approaches towards Poverty Eradication”, United Nations) as mutual trust and peer pressure ensure repayment of loans. This is one of the key features of PAN’s economic plan.

Private Sector

ECOWAS’s vision for the private sector intersects with PAN’s structure and initiatives in the following ways:

- Focus on the development of SMEs (small and medium-scale enterprises) through an emphasis on small-holder agriculture

- Innovate traditional agricultural practices through the dissemination of knowledge and increased access to information

- Enforce regional best-practice standards for harvesting and crop growth, therefore allowing the agriculture sector to evolve into a “pro-active business sector” fit for investment

For ECOWAS, strong economic integration across West Africa begins with the strengthening of regional economic bodies and investment in the national economic sectors. PAN shares many of these goals, and looks forward to continued cooperation with ECOWAS in the long term.

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