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Lead facilitator urges journalists to use knowledge gained to change narrative on trade advocacy

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By Olimatou Coker

Dr. Ken Ukaoha, the lead facilitator for the ECOWAS and GIZ training held earlier this month, has urged the participant  journalists to use the knowledge gained to change the narrative on trade and advocacy issues and be a driving force for societal change.

Dr. Ken made these remarks during the closing ceremony of a five-day intensive training for 25 media practitioners from 5 English-speaking West African countries on trade advocacy that took place in Lagos, Nigeria Lagos.

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The training was organized by ECOWAS in partnership with the German development corporation (GIZ) together with the West Africa Institute of Trade, Agriculture, and Development (WAITAD).

The five days training targeted enhancing the capacity of participants on effective strategies that could trigger improved advocacy and communications efforts towards ensuring that trade and trade facilitation instruments work for and impact positively on the population.

Dr. Ken, ECOWAS-GIZ lead facilitator, said he believes the journalists are going to be judicious in researching deeper into the issue of ECOWAS, given the seriousness and dutifulness attached to the five-day training.

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“The journalists have been trained to change the dynamics by advocating for the true essence of ECOWAS,” he said.

He also appreciated GIZ and ECOWAS for recognizing the importance of the training and using journalists as the mouthpiece to reach out to the wider ECOWAS population.

“We need to grow, we need to expand and look at the issues that nobody has been talking about and if you are going into this particular school, you must be analytical in your acts, deep work with figures and evidence-based advocacy,” he added.

Kolawole Sofola, Director Trade at ECOWAS, lauded the journalists for their commitment to bridging the media advocacy gap on ECOWAS trade facilitation.

Dr. Sofola, on behalf of the regional body, promised to support every initiative of the journalists for societal change.

“Generally, we are here to see how we can build or strengthen your capacity to advocate more on trade issues. I heard during the discussions where the focus has been more on the political issues, but the earnest desire to bring us back to what ECOWAS was created for was heard loud and clear”.

He commended the journalists for taking the initiative in highlighting economic growth and employment as benefits of trading.

Speaking on behalf of the participants, Ophaniel Gooding, a journalist from Sierra Leone, thanked ECOWAS and GIZ for the training and pledged participants are going to use the knowledge wisely for the benefit of the entire ECOWAS sub-region.

“This has been an eye-opener for us. It has been a very valuable opportunity and we are going to take back home the knowledge and experience gained here in order to make a change because what’s really important here is to make a change in Africa,” he said.  

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