German president hails regional integration achievements

“In the past 40 years, you have achieved a great deal in West Africa. You have succeeded in opening the borders. You have recognised that transnational problems cannot be solved by one nation alone. You have recognised that you must pool your strengths in order to enable the West African economy to flourish”, acknowledged German President Joachim Gauck during his visit to the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja on 10 February. In his opening statement to an assembly of high-level officials, he also praised key achievements such as the Common External Tariff, freedom of movement and freedom of establishment, and underlined the need to pursue efforts towards attaining the integration goals of the West African region. “Regional responsibility and solidarity pay off. It is only by working together that one can ensure security and stability. It is only by working together that one can pave the path to growth and development. And it is only by working together that you can build a West African ‘house’ strong enough to withstand the storms of the future”, he said. Germany’s co-operation with the region dates back to 2006. Under the current 2014-19 co-operation programme (worth EUR 22.2 million), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) supports the ECOWAS Commission in three priority areas: 1) organisational development; 2) trade and customs; and 3) peace and security. President Gauck’s visit aimed to further advance German-ECOWAS collaboration on the promotion of regional integration through strategic management and technical advice. It is the second high-level visit since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to ECOWAS in 2011.