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ECOWAS, GIZ urge Journalists to increase awareness on trade benefit’s

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and the German Development Commission (GIZ) have urged West African journalists to create awareness on the many trade benefits in the sub-region.

They made the call on Monday at the opening of the Five-Day Capacity building training for some West African journalists in Lagos, noting that “the media plays a critical role in promoting trade initiatives in the region.”

Mr Kolawole Sofola, Director, Trade, ECOWAS Commission, said that Africa and the ECOWAS have developed a lot of initiatives like the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) to boost trade opportunities.

Sofola, however, noted that many citizens of the region were, however, have little knowledge of the benefits of these opportunities which sought to create a new era of economic transformation in the continent.

“In spite of the numerous trade agreements signed by African countries, there are number of factors that continue to keep the continent in marginal world trade among which is our lack of productive capacity.

“These include our limited trade infrastructure, the high cost of trading across borders, as well as the lack of awareness of trade benefits and also a large volume of informal trade.

“The media plays a key role in educating and informing the public on the latest development, also helps provide opinions and monitor government actions to also hold them accountable,” he said.

According to him, it is very much your role to make sure that government develops its policies, it is implemented and also the citizens are aware of what is happening.

“The objective of this training is to allow media to contribute to the facilitation of cross-border and international trade by reporting and providing critical information on trade issues in the region.

“Promoting and facilitating multi-stakeholders dialogue including both the public and private on issues related to trade policies, and trade agreements.

“And creating platforms for consultations between stakeholders along particular key corridors,” Sofola said.

Mr Bernard Tayoh, Head of Component, GIZ Trade Facilitation West African Programme said that the workshop aimed at building the capacity of West/African journalists on existing trade protocols and initiatives of the ECOWAS region.

Tayoh said that the training will also strengthen the reportage of the journalists who play key advocacy role in the reform of trade initiatives in the West African region.

He said that the Trade Facilitation West African (TFWA) Programme under which the training is conducted is geared at improving the free movement of goods and services in the region.

This, he said, includes improving corridor efficiency, focusing of key trade corridors in the region.

“With new protocols coming up both in the region and in the continent, including under the AFCTA we deem it necessarily to build the capacity of CSOs and journalists to understand the implication of these measures.

“For them to be able to play a key role to ensure those private sectors are able to take advantage of all the opportunities that are created by the new protocols,” Tayoh said.

Dr Ken Ukaoha, Director-General West African Institute for Trade and Agriculture Development (WAITAD), asked journalists as agenda setters to make economic reportage a priority.

Ukaoha said that all sector of humanity would be greatly improved when more attention is given to economy and trade reportage.

“This training is long overdue, looking at new instruments on trade, also at key issues that are coming out within the region as well as Member States, looking at also specifically on what we tend to benefit and what we are losing on trade.

“Also looking at the fact that major newspapers in Member states, trade and economic issues hardly come to the front burner.

“And, it appears that politics have taken over major chunk of activities. And if they are people who should reinvent, rediscover where we should be as a region,” Ukaoha said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the TFWA programme is a multi-donor programme funded by the EU, U.S Germany, EU and the Netherlands and co-implemented by GIZ and the World Bank Group. (NAN

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