8th Regional meeting of The Network of National Authorizing Officers Support
Unit in West Africa of the European Development Fund (ROAC-FED) on Wednesday
opened at a hotel in Kololi.
The event provides an opportunity for National Authorizing Officers of the European Development Fund within the ECOWAS region to discuss issues relating to EU support at both country and regional levels.
The Banjul conclave came following the 7th ROAC-FED held in Niamey in 2015, where it was decided that The Gambia should host the 8th session in 2017.
Welcoming the delegates, Abdoulie Jallow, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, acknowledged that the day marks a historical moment in as much as the European Development Fund is concern, pointing out that this is the first time ever that the Gambia is hosting this important forum.
“You coming to Banjul for this important meeting is special because it’s a time when The Gambia and ECOWAS have come together to promote the ideals of regionalisation, peace, development and democracy, as clearly demonstrated in the timely intervention of ECOWAS during the political impasse. The ROAC-FED meeting provides an opportunity for all of us who are involved in the daily management of the EU Development Cooperation Programmes in our respective countries, to share experiences and learn from one another”.
For his part, Attila Lajos, the European ambassador to The Gambia, underscored the EU resolve to support The Gambia in development assistance. He quoted a former South African statesman, which states, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom”.
Ambassador Lajos maintained that EU and its member states will aim to develop agricultural value chains, which benefit the poor and encourage agro industry to generate jobs and added value.
This, he added, includes increasing the quality of sanitary and phytosanitary condition, promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices, and supporting action to tackle illegal fishing as well as marine pollution and climate change impacts.
In his keynote address, Amadou Sanneh, the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, explained that hosting of this meeting in Banjul coincides with a historic moment in The Gambia’s democracy, where the rule of law, respect for human rights and quest for meeting all development aspirations of the citizenry is at the heart of the government.
Minister Sanneh thanked ECOWAS and various Heads of State, who supported the Gambia in this democratic drive and thus made it possible for them to come to Banjul for this very important meeting of regional and National Authorizing Officers of the European Development Fund.
“The importance of the 8th ROAC-FED cannot be overemphasised considering the development challenges that ECOWAS countries are faced with today such as terrorism, climate change, migration, poverty and food insecurity among others”.
These challenges, he lamented, are the crux of their engagement with the European Union, thus the meeting provides them with an opportunity to discuss these issues mainly from the perspective of both national indicative and regional indicative programmes.
“The lessons learnt will help in paving a better way forward for the challenges ahead. Another crucial point of discussion in this meeting is to critically look into the future of the ACP/EU partnership. In this regard, there are a number of questions that we must ask about the ACP/EU relationship with a view to having a better and mutually beneficial partnership during the Post Cotonou” he stated.
Idrissa Samma, the president of ROAC-FED, also echoed similar sentiments.