By Olimatou Coker
reporting from Lagos
The German Development Corporation (GIZ) in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West Africa Institute for Trade, Agriculture, and Development (WAITAD) on Monday commenced a five-day training on trade advocacy for 25 journalists from across the sub-region.
The training, currently on in Lagos, Nigeria, brought together participants from the five different Anglophone countries in West Africa.
The five-day training is targeted at enhancing the capacity of media practitioners on effective strategies that could trigger improved advocacy and communication efforts towards ensuring that trade and trade facilitation instruments work for and impact positively of the population.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the director of trade at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Kolawole Sofola, explained that international trade plays an important role in the creation of wealth, jobs and improvements in the livelihood of citizens.
He disclosed that since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), international trade worldwide was deemed to be worth approximately $30 trillion in 2021 but lamented that Africa only trades less than 2 or 3% of the global amount.
According to the Ecowas trade director, these realities are a demonstration that Africa is not playing a significant role in international trade despite its large population of 1.3 billion.
“We know how the war between Ukraine and Russia affected trade and it had a knock on our economy resulting in the increase of prices of food, fuel, and other resources.
Despite the numerous trade agreement signed by Africa, there is a number of factors that hamper the continent in the emerging world trade, among which is our lack of productive capacity, limited trade infrastructures, high cost of trade across borders, and the lack of awareness on trade benefits and a large volume of informal trade,” he lamented.
The head of Component, Transit and Trade Corridors from Ecowas, Bernard Tayoh stated that the aim of the training is to build participants’ knowledge on assisting trade protocols and initiatives of the ECOWAS region.
He explained that the Trade Facilitation West Africa programme (TFWA) is a donor programme funded by several countries including America, Germany, European Union, and the Netherlands.
“This training is aimed at improving the free movement of goods and services of the region which includes improving corridor efficiency. Our support measures are aimed at supporting collaborative initiatives between the non-state actors and the public sector aimed at improving the trade facilitation environment in the region. With new protocols coming up, both in the region and continent, we deem it necessary to build the capacity of civil society organizations and journalists to understand the implication of these measures in order to play a key role in ensuring that private sector actors are able to take advantage of the opportunity created.” he said.