ECOWAS: A Recapitulation Of The 51st Summit.

The 51st Summit of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) was held in Monrovia, Liberia last week. The Summit provided an open and communicative process for important African issues to be discussed amongst its members, including 15 West African Nations. Christina Golubski of Brookings gives an overview of the summit and the significant outcomes that were produced from it.

The presence of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly one that is expected at many international summits, but slightly strange given that ECOWAS is a regional economic and security governing body for West Africa. Netanyahu’s motivation for attending the conference was that of strengthening ties with countries belonging to ECOWAS, even stating Israel would promise $1 Billion in projects aimed at Green Energy throughout the region. This promise of investment was quickly followed up by a request for more support inside of the UN General Assembly, UNESCO, and the Human Rights Council, where each vote is extremely important.

Morocco has officially been accepted into the economic body following its application. The acceptance of Morocco was far from guaranteed by any means given the geographic difference between the Morocco and the rest of ECOWAS. It appears that the strong relationships that have been formed with many of the West African nations and Morocco helped to ease the process along, considering Morocco sits on the farthest northern point of the continent, far from this western bloc of countries.

Although not an official member of ECOWAS, South Africa’s economic situation was discussed at the summit. Many economists were proved wrong after quarterly reports showed consecutive losses, pointing towards a technical recession. South Africa faces its highest unemployment rate since 2003, at 27%. Every sector in its economy struggled apart from agriculture and mining. Changes must be made if South Africa is to propel itself into a positive direction.

Often underreported or ignored entirely, African nations are making significant progress in terms of economic cooperation, investment, and joint military operations that have helped stabilize the continent in recent years. ECOWAS isn’t a colossal international organization like the EU or NATO, but it is one that has produced positive results and will likely continue to do so in the future.

-Andrew Salafia, World Affairs Council Intern

Photo Credit: Newsweek