As heads of state of and Government of the West African body met recently in Niger’s capital Niamey for the 57th ordinary summit, the right man for the region’s top job was also elected. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected unanimously, taking over from Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou.
The newly elected president is now charged with leading the region out of turbulent waters for the next one year. Ghana is considered to be one of Africa’s most mature democracies. It is often praised for its stability, peace and democratic development. AKUFO is now expected to transfer these same leadership qualities on the regional body. He has always had the ambition to lead the region in the right direction as he pledged in 2017 after he took over office as president of Ghana. Akufo vowed his government was going to push his country’s participation in activities of the West African sub-regional body, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and continental organ, African Union (A.U). Ghana played a key role during the political transition in the Gambia. It provided 208 troops in the ECOWAS forces which safeguarded a peaceful transition as Yahya Jammeh caused a tension briefly after refusing to hand over power to the elected president Adama Barrow.
President Akufo-Addo takes pride in Ghana’s efforts that “made it possible for peaceful resolution” in the small West African country.
Akufu-Addo’s government has been determined to show that Africa can emulate the success of the Asian Nations by putting an end to economic “handouts” received from donor bodies.
The challenges that await Akufo-Addo as the new head of Ecowas
Ecowas single currency programme: The dream of all West African countries using the francs CFA is to detach themselves from this colonial currency which has retarded their economic growth while enriching France over the years. The introduction of a common currency known as Eco to promote regional trade and investment has been a major objective of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for more than thirty years.
The Eco was planned to be introduced in 2020, however, France through its Ivorian ally is said to have played a smart move to hijack this dream through its Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara.
The high level of terrorism and insurgency in the region which has cost several lives and material damages is also another important issue which Akufo will be expected to tackle during his term of office.
His administration will ensure the smooth running of upcoming presidential elections in Ivory Coast , Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, ensuring that they are free and fair.
The political impass in Mali which has attracted national and international concerns is hoped to be put to rest. Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently asked the military junta in Mali to appoint a civilian transition head by 15 September to rule for a period of 12 months.
While addressing the assembly shortly after his election, Akufo-Addo said ‘I am fully aware of the challenges which confront West Africa. Past leaders of ECOWAS have demonstrated their collective will and determination to drive the agenda of regional integration, opening up our economic frontiers, encouraging healthy competition amongst Member States, and ensuring that we adhere to our formative principles’. He also added that leaders must protect, at all costs, the region’s freedom and independence of action, so that the development of the Community responds to the needs and aspirations of the people, and not to the goals of external agencies and forces. Observers believe the coming of Akufo will mean a new dawn for the region.