President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has amplified the call for increased solidarity and cooperation between states in the sub-region to fight and alleviate the human and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said West Africa cannot risk being overwhelmed by the second wave of the COVID-19 disease sweeping the region, as this would heighten the unprecedented economic and social difficulties wrought by the initial outbreak.
Addressing the 58th ordinary session of ECOWAS in a virtual summit, President Akufo-Addo said the repercussions of the pandemic, which is being felt in every sector, called for a common response by the economic bloc.
He said the onset of the second wave of COVID-19 and the outbreak of a new variant in most parts of the world, was a point for the sub-region to coordinate more its responses and approach to the common challenge that could “worsen the exogenous shocks affecting our region.”
He told the meeting that though the sub-region had shown considerable hardiness from the outbreak of the pandemic last year, the lessons of the period should not be lost. It should offer the bloc the chance to build a more resilient economic region.
“Far from viewing this situation as a disaster before which we are powerless, we must embrace fully the lessons it teaches us, as well as the direction it is pointing us.
“In particular, we must remember that it has given us a good sense of how important it is for us to strengthen our unity and solidarity. It has provided us with the avenue to be self-reliant, and it is a clarion call for us to remain faithful to the main objective of ECOWAS, which is to promote cooperation and integration for the well-being of our citizens,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo extended appreciation to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, for championing the fight against COVID-19 in the region, by providing medicines, medical equipment, and deploying human resources to other ECOWAS countries.
He also commended the region’s foreign partners for their support, which ensured that the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) were able to broaden their scope of support to the Member States as a complement to their efforts.
With vaccines soon to be available, the ECOWAS chairman said, “The time has now come for us to work earnestly towards the vaccination of our populations.”
“We need to send a strong signal to them, from this Summit, of our determination to protect them, ” he said.