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ECOWAS Commissioner for Human And Gender Development Dr. Adrienne Diop visits WAI

On Monday 21 January 2013, the West Africa Institute (WAI) welcomed a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission led by Dr. Adrienne Diop, Commissioner for Human Development and Gender. She was accompanied by Mr. Paul Ejime, Communication Director of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Mahama Kappiah, Executive Director of ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), based in Praia, too, and Ms. Fatima Handem, Embassy Secretary attached to the Directorate of State Protocol of the Ministry of External Relations (MIREX) of the Republic of Cape Verde.

Speaking on behalf of the Secretarvisite IAO Commissaire CEDEAO Dr Adrienne Diop 15iat of WAI, Mr. José Brito, Chairman of WAI Board of Directors, welcomed the delegation and introduced the subject of the meeting. He pointed out the urgent necessity to build a bridge between science and decision-making for the consolidation of regional integration in West Africa. In this context, the WAI is an important proactive Think Tank. The Director General of WAI, Pr. Djénéba Traoré expressed the honor of the institute to host a high level delegation of ECOWAS Commission in its premises. Putting a particular accent on the hope of establishing a strong partnership and a synergy between ECOWAS Commission and WAI, she said that she is very optimistic regarding the capacity of the institute to promote scientific research in order to influence decision-making. The Program Manager, Pr. Wautabouna Ouattara, presented (i) the history and mission of WAI, (ii) the main results obtained, (iii) the current financial situation and the constraints and (iv) the perspectives 2013-2016.

It appears from the statement that despite the difficult financial situation due to the lack of consolidation of its budget for 2012, WAI has continued to move forward. For instance four innovative studies have been conducted and are in a publishing process. In the framework of the implementation of its activity plan for 2013 and the resources mobilization for the next 3 years, an advocacy was addressed to the promoters of WAI in general and to ECOWAS Commission in particular for support.

The Commissioner for Human Development and Gender thanked the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the WAI Secretariat for welcoming the delegation of ECOWAS Commission. She underlined that having participated from the onset in the discussions held on the creation of the institute, she was well informed about the history and issues of WAI.

In her speech, Dr. Adrienne Diop reaffirmed the role and importance of WAI as a Think Tank focused on the consolidation of regional integration process in West Africa. According to her, the financial difficulties of WAI are a connection problem between the Institute and ECOWAS Commission. In order to create a more effective framework of exchange and communication, she suggested to establish a permanent contact, outside the framework of formal meetings. In this regard, she wished that a delegation of WAI should visit Abuja at least twice in a year, to interact with the various Commissioners and Directors of ECOWAS Commission.

The purpose of this recommendation is to raise the awareness of the ECOWAS Commission regarding the difficulties and challenges of the institute in order to complete a financial agreement that would be institutionalized. During further meetings with highest officials of the ECOWAS Commission, it has been suggested that the institute provides documentation including concrete proposals on the financial contribution of ECOWAS Commission and a detailed account of the use of funds allocated to prior years.

As part of the diversification of funding sources, Dr. Adrienne Diop stressed the opportunity to establish contacts especially with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Economic Community (AEC). She also informed the Secretariat of WAI about the existence of a project to develop a database of researchers and research centers in West Africa. WAI was then invited to join this initiative to have an updated network of researchers identified by specialties.

Diop1The Commissioner for Human Development and Gender showed a keen interest in the implementation of the Master program on regional integration and social transformations in West Africa. She insisted on the existence of a very strong demand for capacity building on this theme. Administrative procedures, initiated by WAI with academic institutions, are currently underway to develop a legal and institutional framework of this regional Master program.

Dr. Adrienne Diop concluded her speech by assuring that a mission report, which highlights the need to find the required resources to run WAI, will be drawn to the attention of the President of the Commission. She  expected the meeting of WAI Executive Committee, to be held at the beginning of February to deliver promising outcomes for the future of the institute.

Giving a set of documents produced by WAI the Chairman of WAI Board expressed his appreciation to the delegation of the ECOWAS Commission for the visit. He especially thanked Dr. Adrienne Diop for her support and the advocacy that she proposes to do to the President of ECOWAS Commission.

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