In recent years, the ECOWAS Commission has gradually taken steps to develop its regional activities and policies. The experience of the European Union (EU) has shown that regional integration can be a useful tool to facilitate the adoption and implementation of development policies and incentive schemes on national levels (e.g. EU Directive with binding renewable energy targets).
The Ouagadougou Declaration, adopted at the ECOWAS Conference for Peace and Security on 12 November 2007 in Burkina Faso, articulated the need to establish a regional centre to promote regional development. At the conference, the Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs and UNIDO pledged support for the creation of such an agency. In 2008 the 61st Session of ECOWAS Council of Ministers adopted the regulation C/REG.23/11/08 and gave the ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) a legal basis.
In 2010, the Secretariat of the Centre was established during a six-month preparatory phase in Lome, Togo, with the support of the ECOWAS Commission and the European Union, as well as technical assistance from UNIDO. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) was formally inaugurated with a ceremony conducted by His Excellency Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo and President of the ECOWAS Commission, at its headquarters in Lome, Togo, on 6 July 2010. In 2011 new funding commitments and pledges were received from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union (EU) and the Government of France.
ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) mandate is also perfectly aligned with the broader strategic goals of ECOWAS Vision 2020. It seeks to realize directly two of the components of this vision, namely: (1) ‘A region that anchors its development on sustainable development, including agricultural and mineral resource development strategy, and on planned agricultural and industrial strategies; a region that develops its infrastructure and makes services accessible to its citizens and enterprises.’ (2) ‘A region that conserves its environment and resources, promotes modes of equitable and sustainable development in economic, social and environmental fields; a region which brings its contribution to bear on resolution of the common problems and challenges confronting the planet.’
At a more specific level, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU)’s mission contributes to several goals of the ECOWAS Regional Strategic Plan 2011–2015. These are first of all the Priority Goal 2 (Promote Infrastructural Development and a Competitive Business Environment), Objective 1 (Improve Business Environment for a Competitive Private Sector), in particular the specific sub-objective 1.1 ‘Strengthen the support for and the development of economic and technological infrastructure such as transportation, water, power, energy, telecommunication and ICT’. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) also supports the implementation of the Priority Goal 3 (Sustained Development and Cooperation in the Region), Objective (Promote cooperation among member states for the development of a viable regional infrastructure), in particular the specific sub-objectives 1.4 ‘Promote provision of efficient, reliable and competitive energy sources to Member States through the common exploitation of traditional and alternative energy sources’ and 1.5 ‘Promote rural access to affordable energy in the region’.
Mindful of the need to boost regional integration and to make a structural transformation of the economies of West Africa, the Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted the ECOWAS Vision 2020 at its 32nd Session, in June 2007. This vision aims, among others, to achieve the “ECOWAS of People” and a community where people live in dignity, peace, good governance and well integrated into the global village.
ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) is the specialized agency of the ECOWAS Commission that promotes Community Development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
The mission that the ECOWAS Heads of State have entrusted to the ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) is unequivocal: to contribute to the implementation of the regional development policy whose vision is based on a modern and sustainable development, founded on the efficiency and effectiveness of all member states and the promotion of community development through the involvement of the private and public sector.
This specialized agency, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU), is mandated "to ensure the technical execution of regional development programs and plans that contribute to the operationalization of the regional development policy by relying on regional institutions, organizations and actors. It performs the function of specialized technical structure, delegated management projects and programs.
Specifically, the ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU)'s mission is to:
ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) aspires to contribute to the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of West Africa. The activities of ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) contribute to the achievement of the targets of the Ecowas commission body.
ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) aims to create favourable framework conditions, and an enabling environment for Community Development by supporting activities directed at mitigating existing barriers within the technological, financial, economic, business, legal, policy, institutional, knowledge and capacity-building framework. The indicators to measure the progress in the areas of capacity and policy development, knowledge management, as well as investment and business promotion are available in the ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) Business Plan.
ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the implementation of the tasks related to the implementation of the regional development policy. It does not directly implement actions in the field, but contracts with technical institutions and all actors whose skills are proven. Within the framework of the projects it coordinates and with the support of the financial partners, the ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) directly finances, through calls for proposals, projects in the field that are supported by the public and private sectors, NGOs and Partners.
Scope of Intervention
The ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) has identified the followinig geographic scope of intervention:
- Supports and executes activities and projects which cover one or more ECOWAS countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, La Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
- Focuses primarily on activities and projects with regional impact or national projects which demonstrate high potential for scaling-up or regional replication.
- Works in urban as well as sub-urban and rural areas. Due to the high relevance of decentralized technologies and services for rural areas, the ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) will run a special rural development program.