The president of the Ivory Coast on Thursday expressed concern on an increase in cases of the novel coronavirus in West Africa, urging his counterparts to pursue and accelerate response initiatives for economic recovery.
Alassane Ouattara made the remarks while chairing the 22nd session of the heads of state and government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) via video conference.
“We must continue and accelerate initiatives to strengthen our capacity to produce pharmaceutical products, vaccinate populations, and go further in collaboration with our partners and regional institutions in the diligent implementation of response plans,” Ouattara said.
He noted that the pandemic had “strongly” lowered the economic growth rate in the region from 5.8% in 2019 to 0.9% in 2020. Nevertheless, he estimated an improvement to 5.8% in 2021 thanks to “response and recovery plans in all member states.”
On the security front, he said the bloc was “more than ever” determined, with “the support of the international community, to counter the spread of terrorism and to deal with growing insecurity.”
At the same time, an institutional framework for the renewal of the union’s organs was defined and Roch Marc Kabore, the Burkinabe president, replaced Ouattara as the head of the West African economic bloc’s conferences.
Despite “an increase in cases” of coronavirus and security and economic challenges, Ivorian President Ouattara said the UEMOA had recorded “major developments.”