ECOWAS Commission, through the Trade Directorate, has collaborated with CILSS and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) to conduct a kick-off capacity building workshop within the framework of the Informal Trade Regulatory Support Program (ITRSP). The first, among a series of capacity building workshops was held in Accra – Ghana, from the 28-30 July 2021.
The overall objective of the workshop, including the subsequent ones, was to build the capacity of enumerators, supervisors, webmasters, and relevant stakeholders involved in the effort at collecting and uploading informal cross border trade data on the region.
Despite the efforts of ECOWAS in consolidating the achievements of the integration process and its acceleration in order to benefit from the gains linked to trade and to take advantage of local cohabitation, official data reveal that the member countries of the ECOWAS trade less (12% – 13%) at the regional level than with the rest of the world.
Several studies have shown that the level of intra-regional trade covers only formal trade. Thus, informal trade escapes registration in the computer systems of customs administrations, which constitutes an important part of information on national economies. According to these studies, its contribution varies from 20% to 40% depending on the country.
The growing importance of informal trade in the economic and social life of ECOWAS States has prompted the ECOWAS Commission to formulate the Regional Informal Trade Regulation Support Program (ITRSP / PARCI).
As part of the capacity building, participants were taken through (i) verification of the effectiveness of the correct reporting of data from the CILSS database to the database of the site www.eco-icbt.org, (ii) finalization of the various tests of parameterization of the methodology, (iii) testing the operationalization of the ECO-ICBT tool for data extraction in NSO mode, and (iv) carrying out comparison and validation tests of the data reported in order to establish a synoptic templates/tables from 2015 to 2019 of the actual volumes and values of informal cross-border trade by Member State and for the Region. In addition, discussions were held on how to integrate the ECO-ICBT and the AUDA-NEPAD Traffic Light System in an effort to make border posts more efficient for the ICBT sector.
As part of the outcomes, the workshop agreed on set of criteria for selecting enumerators, supervisors, and webmasters to participate in subsequent capacity buildings. This would ensure effective utilization of resources and also to ensure that the right caliber of people are trained.
The workshop also recommended a careful planning and design of a collaborative program between ECOWAS Commission represented by the Trade Directorate and AUDA NEPAD’s MoveAfrica/Traffic Light System (TLS) to ensure a sustainability, effective resource mobilization and enhanced collaboration.
In all, about 5 capacity building sessions are envisaged between 2021 and 2022 with over 150 enumerators, supervisors, webmasters, and relevant stakeholders across the region expected to be trained
The workshop was attended by representatives from the ECOWAS Commission; CILSS; WAEMU; WACTAF; AUDA-NEPAD ;National Statistics Bureau of Ghana, resources persons, enumerators, supervisors, and webmasters.
The next capacity building is scheduled to hold in September 2021.