The European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have recently entered into a strategic partnership, signing seven agreements valued at €212.4 million. These agreements encompass a wide range of areas, including the promotion of trade and regional integration, energy interconnectivity, renewable energy, affordable and clean energy, sustainable food systems, food security, and migration.
Leading the EU team, Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, met with Omar Alieu Touray, the President of ECOWAS Commission, in Abuja to finalize the signing of these agreements. Accompanying Urpilainen was Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy.
Urpilainen emphasized the EU’s long-standing commitment to regional integration, which she believes generates prosperity through value addition. Recognizing the prevailing political challenges faced by ECOWAS, Urpilainen stressed that these agreements play a pivotal role in stabilizing the region by promoting democracy, the rule of law, and economic cooperation.
In response, President Touray expressed his gratitude to the EU for their continuous strategic partnership, which has consistently supported ECOWAS in addressing regional challenges.
The breakdown of these agreements includes €34 million allocated for the enhancement of free movement of persons and migration, aiming to maximize the development potential within a more secure and rights-based Economic Community of West African Countries. This will be achieved by supporting the effective implementation of ECOWAS free movement Protocol and ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration at regional, national, and local levels.
Another €50 million has been designated to support Africa Trade Competitiveness and Market Access, with the objective of increasing sustainable intra-African trade and strengthening Africa-EU trade by enhancing market access and export competitiveness for SMEs in selected value chains.
Furthermore, €11.5 million has been allocated to facilitate the liberalization of services and exports in Sub-Saharan Africa, intending to boost intra-regional, continental, and bilateral trade in services by selected sectors.
Additionally, a support program worth €25 million has been established to aid specialized ECOWAS organizations in the energy sector, aiming to develop the regional electricity market, operationalize its interconnected grid, and increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix. This agreement aims to provide sustainable, affordable, and accessible energy for all, promoting gender inclusivity.
Under the Regional Clean Cooking Action in West Africa (ReCCAWA), €12 million has been set aside to increase access to clean, efficient, sustainable, and affordable cooking energy solutions in West Africa. This will be achieved by strengthening the clean cooking enabling framework at regional and national scales, proposing innovative financing and business models, and disseminating evidence-based data and knowledge to govern the West African cooking sector.
Two additional agreements include the Project to Support the Regional Food Security Storage Strategy in West Africa (PASRSSA), valued at €20 million, and the Regional Support Program for the Development of the Pastoral Economy in West Africa and the Sahel (PRADEP-AOS), worth €60 million. These agreements aim to support the integrated and coordinated implementation of ECOWAS regional storage strategy, as well as enhance the contribution of the livestock sector to sustainable food systems and inclusive green growth.