* By Paul Ejime
Regional non-state actors in West Africa on Thursday began a three-day workshop in Dakar, Senegal, to equip civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with tools and effective skills for people-centered advocacy to influence ECOWAS. policies and protocols on trade and free movement, in particular for the benefit of the most vulnerable.
The workshop from 25 to 27 November 2021, which is part of the activities of the West Africa Trade Facilitation Project (TFWA), aims to strengthen the voice of civil society organizations in dialogue and parties’ commitments. stakeholders for trade facilitation.
The TFWA project is a multi-donor initiative supported by USAID, the government of the Netherlands, the European Union and German Development Cooperation. It is managed by the World Bank Group and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ) on behalf of ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
In his opening speech, Dr Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, Director of the Dakar-based African Center for Trade, Integration and Development, ENDA-CACID, explained that CSOs play a crucial role in development processes and integration in the ECOWAS region.
“They are involved, at regional and national levels, in the design and implementation of sectoral policies, including trade, agriculture, industrial policies as well as issues related to migration, gender, security food, women’s empowerment and youth employment, among others, ”he said. added.
Dr Dieye then gave a presentation on Introduction to the cycle, process, steps, techniques and outcomes of advocacy.
For advocacy to be effective and impactful, he underlined the need for good knowledge and identification of problem areas, strategic choices, planning, fundraising, sensitization and mobilization of relevant actors and of public opinion.
Maiko Miyake, World Bank, reiterated the Bank’s continued support for regional integration projects, especially through cooperation with development partners for trade facilitation. She called for the diligent implementation of various regional instruments for improving the volume and value of trade.
In his presentation on strategies for political engagement and influence in advocacy, Dr Ken Ukaoha, President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), urged CSOs and NGOs to pay more attention to reforms. institutional processes within ECOWAS, in particular through active advocacy with the Authority of Heads of State and Government for transformational changes.
He stressed that advocacy without active support or actions would not yield the desired result, and therefore urged CSOs and NGOs to recalibrate their advocacy strategies and persevere until success is achieved.
Management expert Dr Aurélien Atidegla stressed the importance of collecting and using research data and evidence in advocacy. He noted that triangulation and complementarity of qualitative and quantitative data as well as primary and secondary data was imperative to strengthen advocacy strategies.
In their welcome speech, Col Samba Souna Fall from the Senegal National Committee for Trade Facilitation and Adja Coumba Sall Fall from the ECOWAS National Office underlined the need for strong involvement of non-state actors in programs and activities. trade and regional integration.
The Dakar regional workshop should provide regional CSOs with basic knowledge on advocacy and influence techniques for trade facilitation and also equip them with the basic elements of ECOWAS texts on trade and free movement of goods. people, goods and services.
* Paul Ejime is an independent consultant to international organizations on strategic communications, advocacy, media, peace and security, elections and a global affairs analyst.
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