George Theophilus Ansumana, Jr.

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The Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Edward Singhatey, has charged journalists from across the West African region to be conscious of the link between stability, economic development and integration as they carry out their role of adequately reporting ECOWAS news and events in the region.

The Liberian Embassy in Abuja, quoting a release from the ECOWAS Commission, says Vice President Singhatey stated this in Abuja on May 31, 2016 at an interactive session with selected young media practitioners who were at the ECOWAS Commission for ‘The Get to Know ECOWAS’ program.

Liberian journalist Ladymai Hunter-Summon of the Montserrado-based Liberian Women Democracy Radio is among several other journalists from other ECOWAS countries attending the ongoing program, which ends this weekend.

The “Get To Know ECOWAS” program, a training for selected ECOWAS journalists, is a study tour and training program organized by the Communication Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the Friedrick Ebert Stiftung (FES).

The idea, according to the organizers, is to create a pool of well-informed media practitioners who would act as catalysts to bridge the information and awareness gaps between ECOWAS and the citizens of West Africa, while leveraging on the strategic importance of the media to ensure that milestones of ECOWAS are brought closer to the people.

Mr. Singhatey urged the journalists on the need to be alive to transnational issues and the coexistence of states, also charged them to be more forceful in the reportage of the integration agenda of the regional organization.

Intimating the journalists with some of the strides made by ECOWAS, even as the organization is on the verge of rolling out more programs geared towards effective integration, he cited the ECOWAS biometric card system, transnational road and rail infrastructure, trade liberalization and greater cooperation and understanding among contiguous states as some examples in this regard.

Vice President Singhatey then fielded questions from journalists on a cross section of issues including the procedure of bringing up cases at the ECOWAS court of justice, institutional reforms, the conditions that warrants ECOWAS’ intervention in member states at periods of political turmoil, the various programs aimed at poverty reduction in the region, as well as the collaboration with the development partners.

The journalists were also put through a variety of trainings with a study tour of the Nigerian National Communications Commission (NCC) for an exposition on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a means of integrating people across West Africa, digitization, Internet access and penetration, development of ICT Policy, as well as postal and telecommunications issues.

Specifically, the NCC’s Departmental Directors supported the Head of Human Capital, Mr. Mathew Maganda, to give presentations on the dynamics and challenges in regulating the telecoms industry, the role of corporate law and strategy, licensing procedure, as well as the role of the NCC in the enhancement of the ICT landscape in Nigeria, among others.

Earlier, welcoming journalists during the opening session on Monday, May 30, the ECOWAS Director of Communication, Mrs. Sandra Oulate Fattoh Elleingand, on behalf of His Excellency Marcel Alain de Souza, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, stressed the imperativeness of having a crop of better informed journalists about ECOWAS and its institutions towards the envisaged greater integration of the area, with an ‘ECOWAS of the People’ in sight by 2020.

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