By Lizzy Okoji
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mr Sidi Tunis, has emphasised the need for Member States to use ICT as a veritable tool in advancing regional policies, development and in achieving peace and security.
This is as the Speaker also lamented that the ECOWAS sub-region, was lagging behind in Information Communications Technology (ICT) know-how.
Tunis was speaking at the opening of the ECOWAS Parliament’s De-localized meeting on Telecommunications as Development Factor in West Africa, holding in Winneba, Ghana.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) diplomatic correspondent, who participated in the virtual meeting quotes Tunis as saying that African countries may never make technological advancement without embracing ICT.
Tunis noted, however, that ECOWAS Parliament was bringing the issue to the front burner, to enable member states to brainstorm on how to use ICT in advancing development and policies in their countries.
“Organisations use ICT to organise trans-national networks in response to international competitions. ICT is transforming societies and fueling the growth of the global economy.
“Permit me to state the obvious that a lot of the challenges bedeviling our sub-region already have their solutions in ICT.
“Therefore, the deliberations of members of the joint committee over the next few days should lead to sound recommendations for our community as the region is currently affected by waves of violent extremism, terrorism, humanitarian crisis and global pandemics.
The speaker said that member countries of ECOWAS must consider the merits of latest technological advancements, innovations and intelligence as viable tools to curb insecurity in their countries.
“After all, evidence shows that societies mired in violent conflict are often characterised by a lack of development and shortages of economic opportunities.
“So, we must strive for the return of peace in our sub-region as it remains the key component to sustainable development.”
Tunis commended Ghana for becoming a major ICT hub in West Africa with the decision of tech companies to situate their continental headquarters in Ghana.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Hon. Alban Babgin, said the theme of the meeting was apt and reflected the growing recognition of the importance of ICT in dealing with myriads of problems faced in the sub-region.
Babgin said that in recent times, ICT services had become an indispensable tool in the development of every facet of society, whether in the health, education, agriculture or trade or industry sectors.
“Indeed, telecommunications play an increasingly vital role in enabling the participation and development of people in communities and nations disadvantaged by geography, whether in rural areas of developing nations or in the global society and economy.
“As you may all be aware, the sub-region is confronted with various challenges such as drug trafficking, child trafficking, proliferation of and trafficking in small arms, organised crime, money laundering and terrorism.
“Cybercrime and insecurity in the maritime space in the Gulf of Guinea are issues that require immediate attention.
“For this reason, countries in the sub-region through data collection and data sharing are strengthening their collaboration and existing cooperation with international agencies.
“ICT offers us new opportunities to better manage conflicts and build peace, especially at the local levels of our societies,” Babgin said.
The theme of the meeting is: “The Role of Telecommunications and Information Technology in Achieving Regional Development, Peace and Security and Human Rights’’.
The meeting which commenced on July 27 is to end on July 31. (NAN)