The Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has urged governments in West Africa to concentrate on finding solutions to the COVID-19 situation, especially as the second wave of the pandemic has emerged.
She noted the robust measures and initiatives taken in respective countries, which have made it possible to contain the pandemic, saying the second wave raises concern for the health of citizens and economic and social difficulties for the region in 2021.
“We should therefore focus our attention on finding solutions, notably the rapid vaccination of our populations and the strengthening of the resilience of our countries,” Ms Botchwey said.
The Minister made the call at the 85th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, which is being held via video conferencing.
The Minister, who doubles as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, said that in spite of the despair resulting from the impact of the pandemic, and the new wave currently being experienced, there is the need for collaborative work from governments in the region to tackle the situation.
“We must remain optimistic and strengthen our solidarity to take up the challenges together,” Ms Botchwey said.
“One of the lessons learnt from the Coronavirus pandemic is that we must reinforce our solidarity to face the challenges in our region,” she added.
On security, the Minister said that the substantive efforts made by all Member States and all ECOWAS institutions to contribute to the consolidation of peace and security in the region gave hope for a dynamic pursuit of integration process this year.
She further noted that the fight against terrorism, consolidation of democracy, revitalisation of regional trade, and the transformation of economies are equally pressing matters which should engage the attention of Council.
The Council rendered heartfelt condolences to the governments and peoples of Ghana, Mali and Niger who have lost former Heads of State, former Prime Ministers and political leaders, namely Jerry John Rawlings, Moussa Traoré, Amadou Toumani Touré, Mamadou Tandja, Soumaila Cissé, Modibo Keita and the Secretary General of the Commission, Dr Nelson Magbagbeola.