Abuja, 1st March 2018. Having served for almost two years as President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Marcel de Souza handed over to his successor Jean-Claude Brou, on Thursday 1 March 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The handover ceremony was attended by Ally Coulibaly, Minister of African Integration and Ivorians Abroad, Mrs Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Nigeria and ECOWAS, alongside staff and heads of Community Institutions.
In his farewell address, Mr de Souza outlined the significant progress made by the outgoing Commission. He cited in particular the ongoing ECOWAS institutional reform; renewed commitments of Member States to the creation of the ECOWAS single currency by 2020; and plans for the construction of a new Commission headquarters.
He also recalled the establishment of a regional television station; successful conduct of presidential elections in 2016 and 2017 in six ECOWAS Member States; launch of the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) in 2017; and the transformation of the early warning system into a tool for human security and natural disaster monitoring.
The outgoing President also highlighted the enhanced harmonisation of macroeconomic and monetary integration policies; signing of the Association Agreement with Mauritania; repayment of debts and improved solvency, credibility and corporate image of the Commission; adoption and implementation of the ECOWAS Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct; as well as cost containment measures.
This notwithstanding, Mr de Souza underscored the major challenges to be addressed, in particular late payment of Community Levy by Member States; non-compliance with decisions of the ECOWAS Court of Justice; no solution to the political crisis in Guinea-Bissau; strengthening of regional integration; sustaining the gains made in managing staff welfare and cost control measures; operationalisation of Joint Border Posts in Noépé between Ghana and Togo, and Sèmé between Benin and Nigeria.
Taking his turn, the new President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, congratulated and thanked his predecessor for the impressive manner in which he led the regional organisation.
“Your actions further lifted and raised ECOWAS’ flag high. Your commitment to hard work is not a secret to anyone, especially me. I would like to extend my congratulations to all outgoing Commissioners and statutory officers. You can leave with head held high for a job well done that will forever be remembered by the entire Community,” Mr Brou said.
He welcomed the progress made by ECOWAS at political, institutional, security, economic and social levels and pledged to further strengthen them.
For Jean-Claude Brou, the challenges to be addressed include Member States’ expectations in the areas of economic, social and human development; synergy of actions for greater efficiency in their implementation; sound business environment to support and finance infrastructure, industrialisation, agriculture and the economy.
Prudent operational and financial management of ECOWAS resources; improved implementation of the Community Levy mechanism to ensure the financial stability of Community Institutions; performance of ECOWAS staff are further challenges to be addressed, he stated.
He availed himself of the opportunity to express his gratitude to ECOWAS Heads of State for approving his appointment for the next four years, in particular Faure Gnassingbé, Togolese Head of State and Chairman of the regional organisation, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian President, and Alassane Ouattara, Ivorian Head of State, as well as Prof. Robert Dussey, Togolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration,.
A native of Cote d’Ivoire, the new ECOWAS Commission President holds a PhD in Economics, an MBA in Finance from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America and, a Master’s degree from the National University of Cote d’Ivoire.
He began his professional career at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1982, first as a Senior Economist and served mainly in Senegal from 1990 to 1991 as IMF Resident Representative.
Until his appointment as President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Brou served as Minister of Industry and Mines in Cote d’Ivoire since November 2012. Prior to that, he was Economic and Financial Adviser to the Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire from 1991 to 1995. In 1996, he was named Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, a position he held until 1999. He was also Chairman of the Privatisation Committee.
Jean Claude Brou also worked for eight years at the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), where he was successively Director of International Relations and Director of Studies until 2005. He thereafter headed the Department of Economic and Currency Studies before being appointed Special Adviser and Comptroller General from 2007 to 2008.
He was also the World Bank’s Resident Representative for Chad from 2010 to 2013, and Consultant to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Jean-Claude Brou is married with two children.