By Ese Ekama
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria is the largest contributor to West Africa's wealth creation, accounting for about 75% of the region's gross domestic product (GDP).
Ebrima Faal, senior director of AfDB in Nigeria, said this in an interview with reporters at the Bank's annual meeting in Malabo.
According to Faal, Nigeria's trade policy is fixed at ECOWAS as it continues to play a coordinating role in the region through both the government and its vibrant private sector.
He said that on free movement of people, Nigeria is relatively successful by ratifying relevant ECOWAS documents on free movement of people, the rights of facilities and free movement of workers.
According to him, Nigeria allows people with valid travel documents from all other ECOWAS countries to enter the coast without a visa.
Faal said Nigeria has made further progress in trade integration by working to harmonize documentation and streamline processes that allow free cross-border trade flows.
The Secretary of State said, "Nigeria has an active Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Program, which is the main operating tool to promote free trade in West Africa." .
But he said there is still much to be done on integrating productive value chains, especially in the agricultural and manufacturing export sectors.
To this end, he said that the Ebonyi Ring Road project, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in April, will open Enugu province to trade with Cameroon and other neighboring countries.
He said that although the project is led by the state government, it is a regional road that has passed the Enugu-Bamenda Road Corridor at two points, making it easy for local residents to access Cameroon.
According to him, AfDB is working with the Ebonyi government to realize the project.
"In April 2019, we approved a $ 70 million loan package for the Ebonyi State Ring Road project.
"This project is a state initiative designed to connect eight of the 13 municipal areas in the state, but has strategic aspects as it crosses the Vemenda Road Corridor in two ways.
"It will provide residents in the affected area with easier access to Cameroon."
Faal said that the Bank will continue to focus on improving the institutional framework for coordination and management of regional projects through capacity support ECOWAS and other regional agencies.
He said specialized agencies were "power pools, corridor development authorities, river basin authorities, regional statistics authorities" and regional integration coordination agencies across the country.
The theme of this year's conference is "Regional integration for the economic prosperity of Africa."
The Annual General Meeting provides an opportunity for experts, governments, corporations, civil society, think tanks, and academies to share candid evaluations of regional integration efforts and to dialogue on critical issues related to Africa's development.
The meeting held on Monday in a closed room session with senior officials continues on Thursday.