The Gambia and Sierra Leone have supported the bid by Liberia to host the next annual rotational conference of high-level decision-makers from ECOWAS member states.
The meeting, dubbed Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) for West Africa, is annually organised by the West Africa office of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Every year, the ICE is hosted by a member state of ECOWAS at the request of the country. And at the end of the 21st session, held in Cotonou, Benin from 27 to 29 June 2018, Liberia expressed interest to host the next one in 2019.
“We would like to express our desire to host the next ICE,” said the head of Liberian government delegation to the meeting in Cotonou. “Liberia is a very beautiful country; we have cocoa and we are very hospitable to our guests.”
The head of Sierra Leonean government delegation supported Liberia’s bid.
“I am very happy to support the motion for Liberia to host the next ICE,” the Sierra Leonean said.
The head of Gambia’s delegation to Cotonou, Madam Juldeh Ceesay said since the beginning of the programme said The Gambia had been planning to host the meeting.
“But I have been informed that we will be hosting the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation] Summit next year, so we will be very busy. For that being the case, we are happy to support the bid of Liberia,” she said.
The director of ECA West Africa, Prof. Dimitri Sanga, said the ECA secretariat would now work out an agreement with the government of Liberia for ICE 2019.
Meanwhile, speaking at the closing of the 21st session of ICE, Prof. Sanga said the agreements and recommendations of the meeting would be presented to the relevant regional and intergovernmental organisations for the necessary action.
The ECA director expressed optimism that even though Africans are good at outlining strategies and recommendations that would not be implemented, the recommendations of the ICE would not suffer similar fate.
The ICE is a body established by the UN General Assembly. In West Africa, the committee meets annually with high-level decision-makers from ECOWAS member states to discuss economic and social performance and make relevant recommendations.
The 21st session, hosted by the government of Benin from 27 to 29 June in Cotonou, was under the theme ‘Regional integration in West Africa: new challenges and prospects’.
Apart from the discussions on the prospects and challenges of regional integration in West Africa, the forum considered the statutory reports prepared by the ECA: report on the implementation of the work programme of ECA West Africa office in 2017 and outlook for 2018, the economic profile of West Africa, and the progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in West Africa.
Like the previous ICEs, the 2019 one which Liberia expressed interest to host, would be attended by the all ECOWAS member states and other partner institutions and bodies. Together, the delegates would discuss and formulate policies to enhance the economic and social transformation of the sub-region.