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Cablegate: Ecowas Donors' Meeting Hightlights Progress

VZCZCXRO8059
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #3130/01 3401617
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061617Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7972
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 5674
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 003130

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W AND AF/RSA
DEPARMENT PASS TO USTR (AGAMA)
TREASURY FOR DAN PETERS
USDOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECIN ETRD EINV EAID PREL NI ECOWAS
SUBJECT: ECOWAS DONORS' MEETING HIGHTLIGHTS PROGRESS

REF: 2005 ABUJA 2496

1. (U) Summary: Development partners of the Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS) met November 20-21 in Abuja for a
progress report on the organization's initiatives. While peace and
security issues remain central to ECOWAS's work, transforming the
ECOWAS Secretariat into a Commission, building institutional
capacity, expanding participation in the ECOWAS Donors Pool Fund and
deepening regional integration were areas the ECOWAS Secretariat
identified as priorities during this year's donors' meeting.
Overall, the donors seemed pleased with ECOWAS's progress to date,
but as the ECOWAS Secretariat leadership acknowledged, more remains
to be done. The USG continues to play an important role in
facilitating the organization's progress; more can be done with
committed and long-term support for its reform and economic
integration agenda. End Summary.

--------------------------
Donors' Meeting Highlights
--------------------------

2. (U) Transformation of the ECOWAS Secretariat into a Commission
was center stage at this year's annual ECOWAS Donors' Coordination
Meeting held in Abuja November 20-21. In its January 2006 Heads of
State meeting, ECOWAS approved the transformation, creating new
positions of president, vice-president and seven commissioners to
deepen and accelerate regional integration. Executive Secretary
Mohammed Ibn Chambas told donors the commissioner selection process
was well underway and candidates had already been identified in a
"very competitive process."

3. (U) An objective of this transformation is to build ECOWAS's
capacity, a central theme at the donors' meeting. This effort,
which will be implemented through the Program in Support of ECOWAS
Capacity Building (PARECIS), will focus on changing ECOWAS's
management culture to include developing a capacity-building
strategic framework, and focusing on human resource development and
financial management. Chambas appealed to the donor community to
join a pool fund established by the French, Canadians and British to
strengthen the organization's capacity and consolidate capacity
building programs. (Comment: The advantage to the Pool Fund is that
it would significantly reduce the ECOWAS' administrative burden as a
single accountability report on funds is issued, rather than a
report for each donor. End Comment.)

4. (U) With leadership responsibilities more evenly spread among the
new commissioners and enhanced capacity, ECOWAS envisions
reenergizing its institutions to accomplish its numerous goals.
Principal among these is to deepen regional integration. The
organization has a draft roadmap to developing a Regional Strategic
Plan that seeks to achieve integration in West Africa by 2015.
Elements of achieving this goal include transforming regional and
national sectoral structures to create a single regional economic
community, an effective common market, a single currency and
monetary union, a community governance system, and a common conflict
prevention, defense and security system.

5. (U) ECOWAS highlighted the West Africa Gas Pipeline project,
which is almost complete according to the ECOWAS Secretariat, and
the West Africa Power Pool as successful integration projects.
ECOWAS noted the need to build the capacity of ECOWAS member state
"National Units" as a crucial component of its integration program.

6. (U) Peace and security issues were a highlight of the meeting
with both General Toure and Colonel Mbaye of the ECOWAS Political
Affairs, Defense and Security unit giving presentations that
underscored efforts to develop the ECOWAS Stand-by Force (ESF) in
accordance with the African Union mandate. General Toure emphasized
that ECOWAS was a leader in peace support operations on the
continent, but capability gaps remained in the force generation of
the ESF. ECOWAS is in the process of conducting assessments in each
member country to identify gaps in pledged units. Partner
assistance is needed to generate a deployable logistics capability
to support the force. Toure noted that ECOWAS needed to build its
peace support operations doctrinal base to more clearly define force
tactics, techniques and procedures, training and evaluation, and
standard operating procedures.

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Donor Feedback
--------------

7. (U) Canada and the EU gave the donor keynote addresses during the
conference. Other donors represented included China, Denmark,

ABUJA 00003130 002 OF 002


Portugal, The Netherlands, Finland, Norway, the UK, France, Japan,
Spain, Hungary, Sweden and the U.S. In a postmortem of the
conference, donors met on November 22 to share their impressions of
ECOWAS's progress to date and to chart the way forward on ECOWAS
engagement. Overall, donors held positive, yet realistic, views
about ECOWAS's capacity building efforts and peace and security
program. Some cautioned that given the organization's upcoming
structural transformation, it might need additional support as new
commissioners and directors come on board. Donors called for
harmonization of capacity building programs to avoid overwhelming
ECOWAS with too many projects. The Canadians pointed out the need
for advocacy from donors on regional integration within those
countries where they have a diplomatic presence, with the French
emphasizing that integration ultimately would have to be implemented
by member states.

8. (U) The EU representative pointed out that China and India are
playing a greater role in Africa and that the Chinese have greatly
increased spending on infrastructure and investment in ECOWAS. The
UK Liaison Officer to ECOWAS said there is a level of satisfaction
among the donors on the Standby Force. The Spanish underscored the
need for the ECOWAS Secretariat to define an implementation strategy
and arrange priorities, thus improving efficiency. The Dutch
complained that Nigeria's commitment to ECOWAS is opaque and that
Nigeria should lead by example. The World Bank reported assisting
ECOWAS on a regional poverty reduction strategy. Some donors
questioned why West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)
secretariat representatives were not in attendance. (Comment: A

SIPDIS
major integration challenge not discussed at this donors' meeting
but raised in UEMOA's roll out of its own six country Regional
Development Plan in Dakar Nov 2-3, 2006, is how ECOWAS will work
with UEMOA to integrate activities on sensitive issues such as a
common monetary and fiscal regime. End Comment.)

-------
Comment
-------

9. (SBU) ECOWAS's agenda is ambitious for a fragile institution.
While it was heartening to hear of its progress on various fronts
and its ultimate vision and efforts towards West African
integration, the organization has a lot on its plate. Even as
donors observed that ECOWAS was spreading itself thin, they were
also recommending new action areas such as immigration, gender and
environment, making it harder for ECOWAS to set its priorities.
Nevertheless, economic integration is clearly identified as a
priority, in line with the proposed USG strategy for refocusing
engagement with ECOWAS.

10. (SBU) The USG can facilitate the organization's progress with
committed and long-term support for its reform and economic
integration agenda. Helping the ECOWAS leadership remain focused on
economic integration and core competencies will be important.
However, more important will be engaging member states to set
economic integration as national priorities -- the far more
difficult task ahead for donors committed to helping ECOWAS fulfill
its original mandate.
CAMPBELL

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