The European Commission together with ECOWAS and WAEMU Commissions organised today the High Level Conference – Jobs and Growth in West Africa. The EU, ECOWAS and WAEMU Commissions mobilised high level policy makers, financial institutions and private sector from West Africa and Europe to create more and decent jobs and boost inclusive growth in West Africa.
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "West Africa has an important human capital, growing middle class and abundant natural resources. We are here today to engage the key actors in frank and critical discussions on how to harness that potential, unlock necessary investment and reforms to create economic opportunities and increase incomes to ensure prosperity for all".
Following the EU-Africa Business Forum and the AU-EU Summit of last year in Abidjan, the European Commission, the ECOWAS and the WAEMU Commissions gathered today more than 200 high level representatives from the European Commission, regional organisations, regional development banks, national authorities at Ministerial level, financial institutions and private sector.
The Conference, framed around three thematic areas – Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs), Agro-business and Digitalisation –allowed for in-depth dialogue on EU policies and instruments, including the operationalisation of the European Union External Investment Plan in West Africa that will further strengthen the already important EU-West Africa partnership.
Participants agreed that concrete strategies encouraging private sector development – and MSMEs in particular - are key to ensure the necessary job creation and lay the foundations for long-term inclusive growth and development. This notably encompasses broad range of reforms, including access to finance and land, one stop-shop for launching businesses and support to innovation. Needed focus on improved access to adequate training and business skills was reiterated, and it was agreed that it is instrumental to harness agriculture potential by investing in productivity and the development of value chains with most impact on job creation.
Participants also emphasized the profound role of digital technologies and services on a wide range of areas like good governance, transparency and accountability, the fight against corruption, job creation and private sector development, access to micro-finance, education and health. It was concluded that efforts are needed to foster digital entrepreneurship, digital literacy and skills and to promote affordable and secure broadband connectivity and to digital infrastructure, including the necessary regulatory reforms in West Africa.
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