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25 Ecowas journalists vow to put trade and economic integration on the front burner

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By Talibeh Hydara

Having undergone a rigorous 5-day training on trade advocacy, 25 journalists, drawn from the 5 English-speaking West African countries, have vowed to pick trade and economic integration from the back burner and give it maximum coverage across their respective media houses in the sub-region.

The training, organised by GIZ and Ecowas earlier this month, focused on trade advocacy and the role of media in promoting economic integration in West Africa.

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Dr Ken, during training

The Lagos training was conducted in dramatic style, with the lead trainer, Dr Ken Ukaoha Esq., taking the journalists through a raft of issues bedevilling trade and economic development in the region and what the media can do to smoothen intra-regional trade.

Occasionally glossing over the functions of WTO, WB, IMF, the training gave the Anglophone journalists an insight into Ecowas instruments designed to facilitate trade in the region, with specific focus on AfCFTA, a trade agreement establishing a single continental market for free movement of goods and services.

Brimming with new knowledge on Ecowas and its instruments on trade, the journalists concluded by signing a brief communiqué, which reads, thus:

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08/07/2022: Lagos, Nigeria.

Communiqué on 5-day training of journalists of Anglophone ECOWAS member states on trade within the sub-region

Since the formation of the Economic Community of West African States –ECOWAS, implementation of trade economic policies and treaties have faced many challenges within member states. This has been largely attributed to the lack of knowledge on the subject area and inadequate awareness by the citizens of member states.

In view of this, a group of journalists was selected from the English-speaking West African member states to undertake a 5-day intensive training on promoting trade facilitation and economic-related interventions in the ECOWAS region.

The participants drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone were taken through topics like Trade Facilitation Agreement, The Media and ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, benefits and opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the principles and objectives of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), media reporting and advocacy techniques amongst other relevant topics regarding economy and trade policies.

At the end of the 5-day training, journalists committed to intensifying awareness creation about the ECOWAS trade facilitation in their respective countries with the pledge to ensure governments and decision makers are held accountable to the agreed protocols. Specifically, the trained journalists observed that paucity of technical in-depth knowledge of the key regional instruments especially among the media practitioners is largely responsible for the poor implementation of and support for policies and programmes implementation in ECOWAS. The trained team therefore drew a comprehensive action plan targeted at investing in the wider publicity of ECOWAS instruments and creating awareness among citizens on policies and programmes so as to facilitate accountability among political actors in the region, with the ultimate goal of engendering the realization of increased intra-regional trade, regional economic integration, poverty reduction and sustainable development which were the original intendments of the founding fathers of ECOWAS.

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