ECOWAS and Spain embark on a multi million euro project on Migration and Development

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ECOWAS and Spain have signed a technical document for the administration and management of the 10-million-euro ECOWAS-Spain Fund on Migration and Development.

An ECOWAS news release, made available Friday, stated that Spain granted the amount to ECOWAS in support of immigration and development, small arms control as well as energy development and access.

The contribution by Spain is the single largest donor to the regional organisation.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, signed for ECOW AS while Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, signed for his country at the ceremony which took place in Barcelona 1 July.

This agreement follows the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier signed between the two parties in December 2005.

The fund, which will be managed by a 10-member steering committee, will specifically be dedicated to the ECOWAS Commission and member states in the development and implementation of the ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration.

It is also aimed at supporting activities on migration and development in order to maximise the positive effects and limit the negative consequences of migration on countries, migrants and their families.

Specific activities under the ECOWAS migration and development plan of action include the promotion of free movement in West Africa, management of regular migration, policy harmonisation, control of irregular migration and trafficking in persons, especially of women and children, the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Chambas lauded the “scaling up of Spanish funding for African development”, in an apparent reference to Spain’s Plan for Africa programme which was launched in July 2006.

According to him, West Africa has witnessed an unprecedented increase in Hispano – ECOWAS exchanges, covering both institutional capacity development and programme support, especially in post-conflict reconstruction and poverty reduction.

While expressing appreciation to the government of Spain, Chambas urged Spain to continue its collaboration with West Africa to further deepen its relations with the region for the benefit of their peoples.

He identified energy as one crucial area where ECOWAS would want a strengthening of relations in order to “develop our energy sector for business and increased investment and for the accelerated and sustainable attainment of the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs).”

He disclosed that ECOWAS had developed a regional energy generation master plan, an electricity interconnection plan as well as a regional policy on energy access anchored on the attainment of the MDGs.

The ECOWAS Commission President called on the private sector in Spain and other stakeholders to take advantage of a forthcoming Spain-West Africa meeting, which will be co-hosted by Spain and Senegal/ECOWAS, consistent with the Lisbon agreement at the European Union-Africa summit.

The proposed meeting is expected to discuss issues of development, including security and regulation of migration movements, among others.

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