52nd ECOWAS Summit
The 52nd ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and government was held on 16 December in Abuja, Nigeria. This annual meeting was an opportunity for regional leaders to take stock of the West African regional integration process and to call for its acceleration by implementing regional infrastructure projects and improving the business environment in a co-ordinated way. Although there has been some progress – notably, the recent adoption of the ECOWAS Customs Code – there are still many obstacles on the road to greater regional integration. A sluggish harmonisation process of regional monetary policies has delayed the creation of a monetary union, and the free movement of people and goods continues to be constrained by irregular border practices. The encouraging economic prospects of the zone (real GDP growth rate projected at 2.1% in 2017 and 3.1% in 2018) make it conducive to continuing the work and structural reforms necessary to increase integration and economic diversification, but the risks of food and nutrition insecurity after a mixed agro-pastoral season are concerns. The same is true for terrorism, which remains an imminent threat in the region despite the successes of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram of the Lake Chad basin and the operationalisation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. In addition, they also discussed several country-specific situations at the conference, which gave member states the opportunity to promote peace and democracy by managing electoral and post-conflict crises in Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Togo. The region’s leaders have also strongly condemned the treatment of African migrants and refugees in Libya. At the institutional level, the conference was marked by the appointment of Jean-Claude Brou as president of the ECOWAS Commission and the establishment of a committee to study and oversee the candidatures of Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia for membership.