Message from the Commissioner in charge of Macroeonomic Policies

After 50 years of independence, Africa has experimented numerous development strategies. The 1960s were marked by strong government intervention in the economic sector: the major infrastructure, agriculture and mining projects.

These investments generated positive results. However, the global crisis resulting from the oil price increase at the end of the 1970s not only impeded growth but raised indebtedness and curbed investment capacities.

Faced with this crisis that caused huge macroeconomic imbalances and lack of competitiveness, structural adjustment plans were implemented in the 1980s with the objective of stabilising and reviving the economy. Twenty years after these structural adjustment plans, the impact of the SAPs on African economies is mixed. This is the reason why poverty reduction programmes were launched in the Continent.

Concurrently, the decision makers, research workers and even the population became pessimistic. Hence the important question: can Africa be free from the under-development trap?

This collective questioning concerns first of all the research workers who are empowered by our community in order to propose alternate solutions and to enlighten our decision-making process. It seems that along the years, there was a rift between the research workers and the rest of the population. Therefore, concrete proposals are highly expected from the research workers in order to help the other sections of the society to take strategic decisions with a view to getting free from the under-development trap. Although the research workers are expected to stimulate the debate, it is believed that the issue of the continent’s under-development is of concern to the entire African community.

This is the reason why, with the technical assistance of the EU, the ECOWAS Commission is organising a symposium on the theme “Ending under-development: what new prospects for West Africa?” This symposium provides the framework for establishing dialogue among all sections of the African society with a view to proposing an internal solution to the under-development issue. This dialogue concerns the decision-makers, members of the civil society, development partners, the private sector as well as the research workers. It is a great opportunity offered to the region to resolve and measure itself with the rest of the world by proposing concrete and appropriate alternatives for its development within the context of a world confronted with numerous changes.