ECOWAS SUMMIT: 3 Issues Buhari Could Focus On In Togo
On Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari departed Abuja for Lome, Republic of Togo, to participate in two high-level meetings.
According to a statement by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Saturday, the President upon arrival in Togo will have an interactive session at the Nigerian embassy with the Nigerian community based in Togo.
On Monday, President Buhari will attend the Joint ECOWAS/ECCAS Summit which will deliberate on common security threats to countries in West Africa and members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
There is a view to forge concerted strategies in tackling the menace of terrorism, trans-border crimes and other forms of violent extremism.
Besides these regional political concerns, there are three other economic related issues that President Buhari may focus on at the summit.
1. Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement:
The Africa free trade agreement has been one of the most important discourse concerning the African economy of late.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is instrumental to the success of the trade deal. But Nigeria has been reluctant to sign citing several concerns, especially on protecting local industries.
So, it is likely that this summit will provide an opportunity for President Buhari and other leaders in the ECOWAS and Central African region to consider the trade deal on its merit again.
2. The ECOWAS Single Currency Programme:
The idea of a single currency for the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS region has been on the table for a while now.
In fact, a task force set up for the purpose of design and implementation of the framework for the single currency has been working hard at making it a reality.
But not everyone in the region is on-board with the idea.
In fact, President Buhari is one of those who has been cautious about the plan.
In February 2017 while attending the 4th Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on ECOWAS Single Currency in Niamey, Niger Republic, Buhari cautioned that the region should tread carefully about single currency.
He repeated similar warning in February this year while attending the fifth meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Currency Programme in Accra, Ghana.
So, it won’t be surprising if we get soundbites on the single currency plan from the President as the meeting gets underway in Togo.
3. Curbing Regional Smuggling:
Smuggling across the borders of the ECOWAS member states is one of the issues threatening trade across the region.
As a matter of fact, President Buhari’s government has threatened to shut the Nigeria-Benin border over incessant smuggling activities.
It is estimated that over 10 trillion naira worth of goods was smuggled into Nigeria in 2017 alone, according to Nigeria Shippers Council.
So, in the spirit of advancing intra-African trade, curbing smuggling will likely feature prominently during the summit.
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