West African businesses to gain a competitive edge through WACOMP
Joint ITC-ECOWAS programme aims to boost competitiveness of West African enterprises
How can the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) help more enterprises from the region participate in international trade? That was a key question when representatives from the ECOWAS Commission recently visited the International Trade Centre’s headquarters in Geneva to kick-start engagements on the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), which will be implemented jointly by the two organizations.
Funded by the European Union, WACOMP sets out to promote a better business environment for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and boost intra-regional trade by strengthening the regional competitiveness of local products.
During the weeklong engagement, teams from ECOWAS and ITC worked to align on implementation approaches for the first year of the WACOMP. The ECOWAS team was also introduced to ITC range of online tools and services, which are foreseen to support further synergy across the region.
‘The WACOMP project will help strengthen the excellent relations between ITC and the ECOWAS Commission, allowing both institutions to contribute towards achieving greater trade among the countries of West Africa,’ said Ashish Shah, Director for ITC’s Country Programmes.
Through WACOMP, countries will focus on securing investments for specific local products to deemed to have a potential for export. The programme’s focus on growing the competitiveness of MSMEs in West Africa aims to ensure better economic opportunities for businesses and increase access to domestic and regional markets.
While in Geneva, some Commission representatives had the opportunity to participate in one of ITC’s Staff Talk sessions in which they discussed the importance of intra-regional trade in West Africa and the role of ECOWAS in moving this forward.
‘Intraregional trade is very important for West Africa, as a tool for economic development, job creation and poverty reduction. Through this partnership with ITC will we be working to support the private sector’s capacity to produce and export , which again will help alleviate poverty through increased job creation,’ said Kola Sofola, a Principal Programme Officer for Multilateral Trade at the ECOWAS Commission.
WACOMP is funded by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and will be implemented over the next four years.
Learn more about the WACOMP programme.