A daylong training for locally elected officials from municipalities and council and local authorities is currently underway at Golden Hotel.
The seminar is organised by the African Center for Trade, Integration and Development (ENDACacid) based in Senegal in partnership with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The training was meant for locally –elected officials and actors from –border areas in The Gambia to reinforce these initiatives and to equip actors with technical and institutional means in order to enable them to act and influence ECOWAS policies whenever peoples’ interest are at stake.
Speaking at the program, Alarandre Gomis, said the training would enable participants acquire knowledge related to regional integration issues and challenges so that they can request the implementation of ECOWAS instruments on free movement and fulfill the role of leaders in promoting regional integration.
According to him, at the end of the training, more than 35 locally elected officials and rural councils members of the main local authorities of the Gambia will have been trained and mastered the main legal instruments that govern intra-regional trade and the free movement of people within the framework of ECOWAS.
He said the trained locally- elected officials and members of the municipal councils and rural councils will create their own networks and will then become leaders as far as promoting regional integration is concerned.
He also informed that the ECOWAS was created in 1975, with aims to promote cooperation and integration with the prospect of an Economic union of West Africa as well as to raise peoples’ standard of living, maintain and increase economic stability, strengthen relations between member states as well as contribute to the progress and development of the continent.
He added that more than 40 years since its inception, ECOWAS has succeeded institutionally and legally in creating a mechanism necessary for the promotion of the free movement of people and gods within the community. The free movement of people, he said, entails the removal of visa requirements in all ECOWAS member states, the recognition of resident and establishment of rights for the citizen of the community and the institution of the ECOWAS biometric identity card to further enhance intra-regional mobility in addition to the ECOWAS passport.
In declaring the meeting open, the governor of West Coast Region, Ebrima Mballow, expressed delight and honoured to be associated with this very important training of locally elected councilors for municipal and rural councils.
“Today’s occasion is very significant and timely, in the sense that it brought together local authorities across the country to be train on regional integration and to discuss issues and carved out the way forward affecting the regions.
The governor therefore described the initiative as laudable. “I therefore called on everybody to work toward integration, which, when we integrate people and good will move free to their destination. He said let us all come together; put our hearts and minds together to unit as one big family for the benefit of our sub region.”