The ECOWAS Commission, through the Trade Directorate, has organized a capacity-building workshop on informal cross-border trade data collection and integration for representatives of National Statistics Offices (NSOs) and Ministries of Trade from 18-20 July 2023 in Accra, Ghana.
The overall objective of the workshop was to enhance the capacity of relevant stakeholders in the collection, validation, and integration of the ICBT data into official statistics databases; and to consider the directives of the 3rd Joint ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry (ECOMOTI 3).
On behalf of Mrs. Massandjé TOURE-LISTE, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, and Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade, Dr. Seydou SACKO, Program Officer- Competition and Informal Trade, stated that the provision of timely and reliable ICBT information is a key component of ECOWAS Informal Trade Regularization Support Program (PARCI/ITRSP) and that the stakeholders have a vital role to play in ensuring that the methodology adequately captures and presents the value and flow of trade across our region. He recalled the Directive by the Second (2nd) Joint ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry (ECOMOTI 2) meeting held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in November 2022, for the ECOWAS Commission to expand the implementation of PARCI/ITRSP and ICBT Data collection across the region and develop a Technical Note on ICBT in the region for consideration by ECOMOTI.
In a speech read on behalf of Honorable Kobina Tahir HAMMOND, the Minister in charge of Trade of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. Mickson OPOKU, Director of Bilateral, Regional, and Multilateral Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Ghana, welcomed Experts to Accra. He urged Member States to continue to work towards providing
much-needed support to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and for ICBT
operators to migrate to the formal sector ensuring that women and youth are carried along in the process. He called on Experts to help identify and address lapses in the ICBT data
collection mechanism as well as enhance the capacity of relevant stakeholders to leverage ICBT and the AfCFTA to increase intra-regional trade.
In a solidarity message, Mr. Koudjo Dzidefo BIKA, Program Officer in charge of Trade and Statistics at the UEMOA Commission commended the ECOWAS Commission for organizing the workshop and for collaborating with the UEMOA Commission on ICBT data collection. He added that comprehensive trade data is key to the improvement of the quality of
socio-economic indicators in the Member States and the region and reiterated the UEMOA Commis-sion’s support for the implementation of the ECO-ICBT methodology.
The workshop revised the Technical Note on ICBT data collection for onward submission to the Joint Meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry through the ECOWAS Senior Trade officials. Furthermore, the capacity of Experts was enhanced by capturing informal cross-border trade data and integrating them into official national and regional statistics databases. The workshop committed to activating the various national and regional structures for the effective implementation of PARCI/ITRSP. The workshop, as part of its recommendations, called for adequate resources to be made available for ITRSP and related activities.
As of 2020, data collected covers about hundred fifty-seven (157) products and are integrated into official national statistics databases.
ITRSP aligns with the 2012-2014 ECOWAS Strategic Plan with particular reference to Priority number 2: Promote a competitive business environment; Numbers 2 and 4 of the Strategic Objective (2022-2026) of ECOWAS Commission Management which seek Deeper Regional Integration, and Inclusive and sustainable development respectively and how the ITRSP is aligned to these as well as the 2 enablers notably, Capable Institutions and Equitable Partnerships.
The meeting was attended by Trade and Statistics Experts from ECOWAS Member States as well as representatives from the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions, and West Africa Association of Cross border Traders in Agro-sylva pastoral, livestock, and fisheries (WACTAF/AOCTAH).