Minister Tweah Heads ROAC-FED

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ROAC-FED participants posed for photo after the opening ceremony in Monrovia.

-Says Gov’t’s Pro-Poor Agenda focuses on roads so as to enhance economic transformation

Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., has assumed the presidency of the Network of National Authorizing Officers Support Unit in West Africa of the European Development Fund (ROAC-FED) in West Africa.

Minister Tweah took over from his predecessor, Ansumana Touray, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in The Gambia.

Speaking at the opening of the 9th Annual ROAC-FED regional meeting in Monrovia on Wednesday, January 16, he pledged to continue the great work that has already been started by his colleagues. The three-day meeting, which began yesterday, is expected to run up to Friday, January 18.

“We will build on the experiences gained since 2006 when the first ROAC-FED meeting was held in Conakry, Guinea,’’ Minister Tweah assured.

The annual gathering is to provide the National Authorizing Offices and Regional Integration Organizations within the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Region a platform to exchange knowledge and experiences and deliberate on issues arising from the implementation of the European Development Fund’s projects.

Minister Tweah, who is also the National Authorizing Officer of  Liberia, said Liberia’s leadership of the ROAC–FED will work closely with other West African countries  and with the European Union, to stretch the impact of ROAC-FED resources in member countries through stronger collaboration and technical meetings.

Tweah used the occasion to recognize the numerous contributions of the European Union. He described the EU as a critical partner in West Africa, especially in consideration of the vital role it continues to play in the transformation of the space of the sub-region’s infrastructure.

Tweah also informed his colleagues that at the just-ended Economic Conservatives and Reformist Group Africa Summit held in Brussels, he made a plea to the continent’s international development partners to move faster in closing the infrastructure gap in Africa, something he said without which there is no hope for sustained private sector-led growth.He called on West African Governments to redefine their partnership with the European Union in order to ensure sustained private sector-led growth

Minister Tweah named roads and electricity infrastructure as binding constraints to Africa’s transformation and that the resource requirements for addressing these constraints are huge.

Tweah revealed that the European External Investment Program has allocated around 1 billion Euros to support businesses and infrastructure in Africa.

He called on his colleagues to remain in the driver’s seat for their own development and focus on technical issues that can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of development programming and delivery under the European Development Fund as well as deepening EU-West Africa partnership.

Meanwhile, Tweah disclosed that Liberia has been able to address some of the critical reasons that led to EU withdrawal from the country’s road financing.

He named the setting up of an Operational Road Fund, which generates about US$35 million annually, as one of those critical issues addressed.

According to him, the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development focuses on roads so as to enhance the country’s economic transformation.

Outgoing president of ROAC-FED Ansumana Touray said the hosting of the meeting in Monrovia coincided with a historic moment in the country’s democracy after an internationally recognized election.

He said the importance of the 9th ROAC-FED cannot be overemphasized, considering the development challenges that ECOWAS countries are faced with, such as: terrorism, climate change, migration, poverty and food insecurity.

These challenges, according to him, are the crux of “our engagement with the European Union. Therefore, this meeting provides us with an opportunity to discuss these mainly from the perspectives of our various national and regional indicative programs.”

Touray recalled that during the 8th ROAC-FED meeting in Banjul in 2018, certain recommendations were made, namely, that ECOWAS and UEMOA (West Africa Monetary & Economic Union) Commissions should conduct a study on using implementing agencies and its impact on local EU assistance; Heads of State should be duly informed of the challenges faced by the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions in the implementation of the Regional Indicative Programs (RIPs); an efficient monitoring and communication mechanism should be set up within the framework of the EDF; set up a regional platform for monitoring RIP projects, including projects from the Africa Investment Facility and those of the EU Emergency Trust Fund; and Operationalize the ECOWAS EDF support cell and strengthen the UEMOA EDF (European Development Fund) support unit.

The ROAC-FED was established to enable National Authorizing Offices of the European Development Fund to share and communicate technical and development experiences in order to enhance the effectiveness and impact of EDF.

Meanwhile, the ongoing ROAC-FED meeting is being attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, Deputy Ministers of Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and host Liberia.

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