The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Friday signed an agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to make $31.6 million available for projects development in the sub-region.
The agreement was signed between USAID West Africa Mission Director, Mr. Alex Deprez and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel Alain de Souza in Abuja.
Deprez said that the $31.6-million fund was part of the $298-million Development Agreement signed with ECOWAS in November 2015, for a five-year-period of 2015 to 2020.
The fund, made available by the USAID is to support programmes aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, enhancing economic growth, promoting peace and security, and development in the sub-region.
He, however, said that the $31.6 million would address three major objectives which are health, peace and security and economic growth.
“Under each one of these objectives, there are quite a large number of activities funded by USAID but implemented in partnership aligning with the priorities of ECOWAS.
“We have the five-year agreement that totals 298 million dollars and in each year, we incrementally fund it.
“The 31.6 million dollars we signed today is part of the initial commitment of $298 million.”
The USAID mission director further said that $143.3 of the initial fund had so far been made available and also expressed satisfaction with progress made so far.
“We have made a lot of strides; ECOWAS has made a lot of strides.
“We are there to support ECOWAS and we believe that with our support there have been very good results.
“There are all kinds of people and systems and mechanisms to ensure that the money is properly utilised and we pretty confident that the money is well used.”
In his address, ECOWAS commission president said that the funds made available would provide support for programmes aimed at fighting terrorism, ensuring security and health.
“There is no good communications system and we have to develop the sub-regional radio station in Liberia that will cover all member-states.
“So, we need to train people and develop content aimed at fighting terrorism and sensitising the citizenry.
“We also need to develop our early warning system to cover not just politics, but health. We also need to come up with a plan of action to address insecurity and strengthen our forces.
“We will do everything to ensure that priorities defined are implemented,” he said.
He further commended USAID for its continued support to development in the West African region.