The movement to create a West African economic community cutting across former colonial links and linguistic frontiers, took another step forward on Monday (27 January) when ministers from the fifteen countries involved met in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, to discuss the formation of a character.
GV Flags flying at Monrovia city hall (3 shots)
SV President Tolbert arrives for opening of conference
SV INTERIOR Delegates seated (2 shots)
SCU Tolbert speaking (2 shots)
SV Liberian Government officials (2 shots)
SCU Nigerian and Togolese delegations (2 shots)
GV Delegates listening (2 shots)
SV Tolbert continues speech (3 shots)
SV Delegates listening (3 shots)
Initials CL/1800 CL/1810
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The movement to create a West African economic community cutting across former colonial links and linguistic frontiers, took another step forward on Monday (27 January) when ministers from the fifteen countries involved met in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, to discuss the formation of a character. The convention was opened by Liberian President William Tolbert.
Addressing delegates to the four-day session, President Tolbert stressed that the West African economic community structure should be based on pragmatism and realism. He urged that artificial political boundaries, dating from colonial times, should not be allowed to polarise African economies.
The object of the ministerial conference in Monrovia is to produce a working document upon which to base the new economic grouping. This will be followed by a meeting of heads-of-state in Nigeria later in the year, to endorse the treaty establishing the West African economic community.
One of the great stumbling blocks to the finalisation of plans for the community has been traditional ties between French-speaking African countries. States including Mali, Upper Volta, Senegal and Ivory Coast have preferred trade and economic agreements within the "franc zone". In 1973, these countries, along with niger and Mauritania, launched the Communaute Economique de I'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEAO). But since then, the leaders of Nigeria and Togo have impressed upon the CEAO members the greater advantages of an economic community embracing all states in West Africa.
The formation of the West African economic community will turn the region into a vast free-trade area, where industry can be encouraged by the opening of a multi-national market.