ECOWAS has signed an agreement with the Government of Togo for the hosting of the Project Preparation and Development Unit (PPDU), an agency of the organisation with the mandate to prepare bankable infra structure projects to facilitate private and public sector investments.
The PPDU was established in 2005 by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in response to the identified bottlenecks in the implementation of the NEPAD Short Term Action Plan adopted by Heads of State and Government of the African Union in June 2002.
Among them are the dearth of specialised skills within Africa's Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the lack of bankable projects, the insufficiency of resources and inadequate institutional arrangements for the speedy implementation of such projects. In 2008, the Council approved US$8.864 million to finance the first five years of the operations of the PPDU and another US$10 million to be paid into an infrastructure fund for project preparation while the headquarters of the PPDU w as relocated to Togo.
The headquarters agreement was signed on Friday by Togo's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Elliott Ohin, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, who said that the PPDU would strengthen the ongoing efforts by regional leaders to address the infrastructure deficit in the region in order to facilitate regional integration and improve it s attraction as an investment destination.
He then emphasised the 'intrinsic correlation between infrastructure and sustain able development', explaining that this was the justification for the decision by 'Heads of State and Government to make infrastructure development a major priority in the regional integration agenda.'
''The PPDU was thus conceived as a special instrument for the development of pri ority projects on infrastructure for ECOWAS Member States by applying technical, economic and financial studies to make them effective and viable,'' he explained . In this regard, the PPDU is expected to promote the mobilisation of public and private investments and other sources for their realisation.
The President praised the technical and financial partners such as the World Bank, the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF), the African Development Bank, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and the Economic Commission for Africa for their support in the elaboration of the PPDU.
He also commended other partners such as the European Union, the Department of International Development of the United Kingdom, the Spanish cooperation fund and the Japan International Cooperation Fund (JICA), among others, for their express ed interest to support the Unit.
In his speech, Togo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Eliott Ohin, said that in this era of globalisation, the development of Member States cannot be done in isolation of bigger economic entities and in the absence of infrastructure.
He therefore hailed the timing of the establishment of the PPDU as apt against the background of the energy and food crises in the region which is undermining its development, describing it as a ''good initiative that demonstrates the political will of member states,'' The minister said the work of the unit would contribute to opening up the landlo cked areas of the region; stimulate the development of industry and agriculture; help in employment generation, facilitate the development of tourism, help in saving tim e and contribute to the development of the water resources of the region where a ccess to portable water remains a major problem.