Our Focus

Creating Shared Prosperity

In the face of a rapidly changing global economic landscape and increasing inequalities, a strategy for sustained growth must ensure a form of Community Development Programme that makes opportunities accessible to all people and broadly distributes income and non-income gains across society. The inability of countries to fully integrate solutions to social issues into targeted development and economic policies undermines the developmental potential of Community Development, thus widening income inequality gaps.

While there has been a broad decline in poverty worldwide, both extreme and moderate poverty remain primarily rural, with 75 per cent of the world’s poor living in rural areas where productivity is low, local economic activity is inadequately diversified, unemployment rates are high and jobs are insecure. Rural poverty has usually been reduced in contexts of rapid economic growth. However, it has persisted where policies failed to improve productivity and rural infrastructure as well as providing rural populations with access to social services.

Natural crises or conflicts cause social and economic dislocation, which reduces the productive capacity of the economy and the ability of the affected people to generate sustainable livelihoods. Socio-economic development is a key factor in a country’s ability to avoid, withstand or recover from internal and external shocks.

Against this background, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) concentrates its efforts on the Project Development Programmes, increasing the participation of women and youth in productive activities, and human security in post-crisis situations.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) ’s services for the development of industries focus on adding value to industrial production by strengthening linkages between resources, industry and markets.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) supports the transformation of enterprises from the informal sector to the formal sector, with a special focus on simplifying and improving access to developmental inputs. It also strives to improve women’s participation in entrepreneurial activities.

Based on its experience in post-crisis and human security programmes and projects, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) responds to complex emergencies through activities that contribute to socio-economic as well as environmental and energy security both at national and regional level.

Advancing Economic Competitiveness

Regional development is a seedbed for entrepreneurship, business investment, technological progress, the upgrading of skills, and the creation of decent jobs. All these factors contribute to sustained productivity improvements that can ensure pro-poor outcomes and contribute to increased living standards, particularly in developing countries. In addition, better access to domestic and international markets can make an enormous contribution to developing countries’ fight against poverty.

By positioning Community Development at the right stage of global value chains, countries may benefit from opportunities offered by global trade, including more jobs, exports, and foreign direct investment (FDI). In addition to enhanced resilience, market access can bring the much needed capital and technology essential for growing a strong, inclusive, transformative economy. Participation in global trade is an important aspect of any country’s strategic approach to Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID).

Many people in many developing countries, in particular in the Least Developed Countries, live in an agrarian, often subsistence economy. Many young people grow up without opportunities to learn entrepreneurial and industrial attitudes and skills, resulting in poverty with persistent unemployment or underemployment. Entrepreneurship is therefore an inclusive process that enables the bottom billion – women and men – in rural as well as urban areas, to achieve social mobility. Entrepreneurship also transforms economies and enhances industrial development, inclusively and sustainably, from individual and grass-root levels.

Against this background, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) supports programmes towards investment and technology promotion, SME development, trade capacity-building, and entrepreneurship development.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) provides advisory services to improve the business and policy environment for the private sector, assisting with the creation of productive capacities. Its programmes support investment and technology opportunities to help enterprises, especially SMEs, improve productivity and innovation, and achieve systemic competitive advantages. Building on a robust global network aimed at fostering investment, technology and other partnership opportunities, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) seeks to enable SMEs to capitalize on their unique dynamism and flexibility by strengthening synergies among enterprises and with support institutions.

In the context of trade capacity-building programmes, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) strengthens international trade norms and standards by assisting member countries in upgrading production and processing systems to enhance the quality of local products, in particular through the adoption of improved technologies, and help them conform to the standards required by international markets. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) builds capacities in both public and private institutions to formulate trade policies and strategies based on economic and statistical analysis, as well as benchmarking competitive performance at sectoral and product levels and supporting the establishment of trade-related databases such as inventories of technical barriers to trade (TBT), which are designed to expand exports from the industrial sector.

In the field of strengthening the standards, metrology, testing and conformity assessment infrastructure of its beneficiary countries, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) supports standards institutions as well as TBT and sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures enquiry points through various regional programmes and country projects. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) also supports developing economies in addressing the increasingly important issue of voluntary private standards, with emphasis on the uptake of corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards, as a means towards increasing their competitiveness.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) also supports, in addition, the development of entrepreneurial culture and skills through improving the performance of public services for businesses to create an environment where entrepreneurial actions are rewarded. Using a bottom-up growth strategy for poverty reduction, Ecowas ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) introduces practical entrepreneurship curricula at secondary and vocational training institutions, particularly targeting the development of entrepreneurial skills among young people, both girls and boys, before they enter into the workforce. This is enriched through elements of ICT training, combining the basics of entrepreneurship with practical experiences in the use of new technology and thus preparing young people for key labour market requirements and an increasingly networked information society.

Safeguarding the Environment

Pollution, climate change, habitat destruction and over-exploitation of natural resources such as fresh water and fisheries are doing great harm to human health, wellbeing and livelihoods, especially among poorer regions, and is undermining the prospects for a long-term resilient and robust economy. One of the prerequisites for industry to flourish in a sustainable manner is the availability of an assured supply of affordable and clean energy, together with improved resource efficiency.

The risks of climate change are well documented and its impacts are already affecting people and ecosystems. Meeting the climate challenge requires industries and institutions — both public and private — to be able to assess and understand climate change, design and implement adequate policies and to work towards resource efficient societies and low emission growth. “Decoupling” natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth is a key requirement for overcoming the pressing challenge of growing resource consumption levels.

Against this background, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) supports countries in their environmental management efforts, including the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements and the provision of sustainable energy. It helps create new green industries, establishing national road maps for greening the supply chain, determining benchmarks and indicators, disseminating and sharing best practices, running clean technology programmes, undertaking various capacity-building exercises and contributing to international forums with the necessary research and expertise.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) 's services include capacity building, direct technical support to enterprises and assistance to government institutions on Cleaner Production (CP) policy matters, as well as the promotion, adaptation and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and the implementation of advanced CP business models, such as chemical leasing.

In the field of water management ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) focuses on the sustainable use of water resources. This includes capacity-building for the industrial sector to improve water productivity, reuse and recycling, as well as the introduction at all levels of government policies and training in the adoption of the ecosystem approach and the sustainable use of its living resources.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) stresses the need to improve industrial energy efficiency by contributing to the transformation of markets for energy-efficient products and services. It promotes sustainable energy solutions for making industries more productive and climate resilient, which in turn promotes green jobs and green growth, including the deployment of industrial energy efficiency standards, smart grids based on renewable energy and renewable energy for industrial applications as well as the promotion of climate resilient industries.

An urgent need also remains to phase out the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODSs), which lead to the continuing degradation of human health and the natural environment. The Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol provide a response to that need.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) assists governments of developing countries that are signatories to the Montreal Protocol to comply with its requirements through transferring non-ODS-based technologies to Article 5 countries and supports them to meet the set targets in terms of tonnages of ODS to be eliminated.

There is a commitment on the part of governments that are parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to implement legal, organizational and environmental management measures, including substantive technological changes, in order to comply with the requirements of the Convention. The production and use of POPs as well as their presence in the biosphere are causing serious damage to human health and the environment. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) also assist countries in reaching compliance with the Stockholm Convention and develops capacity s in developing countries to protect their populations and their environmental resources from POPs-related pollution. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) also supports countries in addressing the commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Strengthening Knowledge and Institutions

Many developing countries and economies in transition, particularly those with large rural communities, suffer from inadequate access to food and lack of employment. The problem is compounded by the dependence on outdated and inefficient technologies leading to poor productivity and slow economic growth.

Agriculture-based industrial products account for half of all exports from developing countries, yet only 30 per cent of those exports involve processed goods compared to a figure of 98 per cent in the developed world.

In this context, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) aims to promote sustainable, inclusive business opportunities for the rural poor through agri-business and agro-value chain development. ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) 's technical cooperation activities in this regard focus on adding value to agricultural commodities including non-food sectors at various points of the chain of economic transactions that links input providers, farmers, traders, processors, logistic providers, distributors and retailers.

Through its technical assistance, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) links resources and markets in the agribusiness value chains and strengthens forward and backward industrial linkages in order to leg up the economic transformation of countries, improve employment and income opportunities, and reinforce sustainable livelihoods.

Agro-industrial activities benefit a number of groups, including poor and marginalized rural populations, urban agro-industries and communities facing human security challenges or requiring urgent supplies of agricultural equipment and the rehabilitation of food industries. Technical cooperation and capacity-building services are provided to agro-based and agro-related businesses and industries, inter alia, in the food, leather, textiles, wood and agricultural equipment sectors.

ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) promotes investment in agribusiness and value chain development; builds partnerships and linkages with strategic financing institutions; organizes various regional forums and expert group meetings in related fields; and publishes specialized training manuals, guides and electronic media.

To carry out its mandate in this area, ECOWAS Project Implementation Unit (PIU) mobilizes expert services such as cluster development, conformity with quality and standards, rural energy, environmental management and cleaner production.