President Goodluck Jonathan has welcomed efforts to strengthen South-South cooperation through platforms such as the ECOWAS-Brazil Summit, and urged African leaders to utilize the opportunities presented by such cooperation to address developmental challenges facing their countries.
Speaking at the opening of the maiden ECOWAS-Brazil Summit in the Island of Sal, Cape Verde, President Jonathan identified the establishment of a special fund to support the capital base of the ECOWAS Bank for Investments and Development as one of the key outcomes he expected from the summit.
“I am aware that during the course of this special summit four presentations will be made on infrastructure and transport, development of private sector enterprise in West Africa, renewable energy and capacity/skills development which are critical areas of need in West African countries.
“Addressing these issues will ensure rapid socio-economic transformation in various spheres within our sub-region. It is expected that the proposals in the presentations will facilitate collaboration between Brazil and the relevant institutions of the sub-region, particularly our financial institutions, with an objective to set up a special fund to support the capital base of the ECOWAS Bank for Investments and Development.
“This will be a welcome initiative in the interest of our sub-region,” President Jonathan who addressed the summit in his capacity as current Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government said.
He said that he was confident that the ECOWAS-Brazil Summit will provide ample opportunities for participants to identify concrete programmes, agree on them, and develop implementable projects that will facilitate the socio-economic development of ECOWAS-member states and the West African sub-region.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the opportunities that will accrue from this summit and subsequent ones will be tremendous. They will range from collaboration in the areas of renewable energy, infrastructural development to combating organised crime and other related matters such as illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and the illicit traffic in drugs, all of which constitute serious threats to peace and stability in the West African sub-region.
“We must use the intended outcomes of this summit, the political declaration and plan of action which will be modelled on the Abuja Declaration and Plan of Action of the Africa-South America Summit, to address the developmental challenges facing us in the sub-region. We must also avail ourselves of the opportunity to build robust institutions, especially in the four identified areas on which presentations will be made.
“We must work assiduously to ensure that the ECOWAS-Brazil Summit translates into a credible vehicle for our socio-economic development and solidarity for South-South cooperation,” President Jonathan said.
Commending President Da Silva, whom he described as a true friend of Africa, for initiating the ECOWAS-Brazil Summit, President Jonathan said that it will undoubtedly give further impetus to the strengthening of South-South cooperation in general and relations between ECOWAS member states and Brazil in particular.
He said that the ECOWAS-Brazil Summit should not be seen in isolation, but as a continuation of the Africa-South America Summits which were initiated by President Da Silva and Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to provide a platform for the advancement of the mutual interests of African and South American countries.