The EU and the ECOWAS Commission have agreed to establish a West African Competitiveness Observatory (“The Observatory”). The project will be funded through the West African Competitiveness Program under the Regional Indicative Program (PIR) of the 11th EDF. The budget allocated to the Observatory project is 8 million Euros.
With a view to laying the foundations for the creation and operationalization of the Observatory, a Needs Assessment was carried out with EU funding. The Assessment identified a number of key challenges related to competitiveness in West Africa. These include:
- An operating deficit of the various regional trade facilitation tools (ETLS, CET, protocols on free movement).
- Lack of regional tools to monitor the implementation of trade agreements (, EP, WTO) and to assess their impact on the region’s competitiveness
- Lack of integrated value chains and insufficient transformation, modernization and diversification, as well as high production costs.
- Unfavourable business and investment climate
- Weakness in the fields of technology, innovation and quality infrastructure
- Skill and training often unsuited to the needs of businesses
- Insufficient transport, energy and communication infrastructure
- Challenges related to the evaluation of the policies and programs of the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions.
The study highlighted that a number of tools exist at the regional level including:
- ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) database and website
- Instruments of the Regional System of Statistics and multilateral surveillance (ECOBASE, EUROTRACE, ECOMAC)
- ECOWAS West Africa Agricultural Sector Information System (ECOAGRIS)
- Investment climate dashboard (SCORECARD)
- Business Information System (ECOBIZ)
- Commercial Information System (ECOTIS)
- Quality and Industrial Database (ECOQUIB)
- West African Observatory of Transport and Facilitation
- Energy information system in West Africa
- Programming, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation of ECOWAS
- SharePoint workspaces of the 10th EDF and 11th EDF projects of ECOWAS
- ECOWAS ECOlink Business Information System.
- Commercial Trade and Competition Watch System
- UEMOA commercial surveillance mechanism
- Observatory of abnormal practices of UEMOA
- Invest in the WAEMU franc zone
However, many of these tools are not operational or are under construction. Some may benefit from the support of the Observatory project according to their capacity to contribute to the functioning of the Observatory.
Complementarities and synergies will also be sought with the African Trade Observatory (under construction) and International instruments such as World Economic Forum, UN Comtrade, World Bank Doing Business, World Development Indicators etc.)