President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana has been elected the new head of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and will replace outgoing chief Mahamadou Issoufou, his Nigerien counterpart.
“I am fully aware of the challenges which confront West Africa,” said Akufo Addo in his acceptance speech, following the election at a summit held in Niamey.
“As much as considerable progress has been made since the establishment of ECOWAS, some forty-five years ago, we are all agreed that there is much more to be done to consolidate the socioeconomic and political gains made over the years,” added the Ghanaian president.
Akufo Addo said security and counterterrorism in West Africa remain a priority, notably as ECOWAS seeks to help Mali navigate the formation of a new government following last month’s removal of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the ECOWAS commitment to a common currency, also will be top of mind for Akufo Addo.
African leaders including Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, were quick to congratulate Akufo Addo and promise their support at such a critical time. The presidents of Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal were among those chiming in, as did Issoufou as he stepped down.
“It has been an honor for me to serve at the head of this prestigious institution. It is with great pride that I pass on the torch today to my brother and friend,” said Issoufou.