The European Union (EU) supports the ECOWAS Commission through the Regional Indicative Programme for West Africa under the 10th and 11th European Development Funds (Regional Indicative Programme, RIP, 2014-2020). Funded by both the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, the project ‘Support to the ECOWAS Commissions on Organizational Development’ aims to strengthen institutional capacities at the ECOWAS Commission, with a focus on organizational development for increased impact orientation in the areas of strategy, management and organizational culture.
More specifically, the EU-funded ISE (Institutional Support to ECOWAS) component will provide strategic support for the implementation of ECOWAS — EU Partnership to support the institutional reform of ECOWAS. Specifically, the Action will strengthen the ECOWAS Commission and EBID in preparing for the EU pillar assessment. For the ECOWAS Commission and EBID to be able to work in indirect management with EU funds, the requirement in nine pillar areas need to be met: the internal control system, the accounting system, an independent external audit as well as rules and procedures for providing financing from EU funds through grants, procurement, financial instruments as well as exclusion from access to funding, publication of information on recipients, and protection of personal data.
For indirect management of EU funds, the EU Financial Regulation requires that the beneficiary entity demonstrates a level of financial management and protection of the EU financial interests, equivalent to that of the EU Commission. This is verified by carrying out the said pillar assessment to ensure that all systems, controls, rules and procedures comply with international standards and the criteria set by the European Commission.
ECOWAS failed in 2013 its first attempt to go through an EU pillar assessment. As a result of this assessment, the EU Delegation Nigeria, through funding from the 10th EDF, has been supporting the improvement of financial management processes at the ECOWAS Commission. The Programme for Public Finance Management Reforms Result 1 (PFMR1) Phase I implemented by ECORYS has among other things supported the formulation of a revised financial regulation and a tender code which was adopted by the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government in December 2018, draft financial management manuals and accounts management manuals, as well as draft HR Management manuals for recruitment and performance management.
Further support in the form of Technical Assistance was provided by the PFMR1 Phase II under the 10th EDF also implemented by ECORYS. These key institutional reforms and capacity building initiatives have significantly contributed to the estimated current level of entity readiness.
In light of the substantial progress made and in order to prepare for another attempt at pillar certification, the ECOWAS Commission expressed the desire to conduct a mock pillar audit. This last step before applying for the EU-pillar assessment will allow the institution to gauge their readiness to undergo the final assessment. The elements which will be identified as in need of improvement, will have to be supported in a targeted way in order to prepare the ECOWAS Commission for a pillar certification in the near future.
The mock audit has commenced in May 2021 and first results regarding areas of improvements are to be received by July 2021, the ISE is working on the conditions to provide broad and swift support as soon as it will be requested by the ECOWAS Commission.
The present Description of the Action provides a detailed overview of the support to the ECOWAS Commission under a combined financing from the European Union (11th EDF) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The joint action will support institutional reforms aiming at supporting the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development to prepare for the certification to directly manage funds provided by the European Union (Pillar Assessment). This action will be called “Institutional Support to ECOWAS – Specific Objective 1 and 3 (ISE 1&3)”.
The ISE 1&3 is anticipated to last for 24 months, with a combined budget of five million, one hundred thousand euro (4,850,000 EUR) as follows : 3,100,000 EUR from the EU, and 1,750,000 EUR from BMZ.
The action is part of the overall action “Support to the ECOWAS Commission on organisational development” commissioned by BMZ.
The overall purpose of the ISE, including all three specific objectives is to enhance effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the EU aid in West Africa.
The ISE 1&3 will pursue two out of three specific objectives in fulfilment of its purpose:
Specific Objective 1 - The ECOWAS Commission is certified for the management of EU funding, targeting mainly the introduction of an Integrity and Anti-corruption programme, the development of an integrated HR Management tool and the development and roll-out of an ECOWAS internal training facility.
Specific Objective 3- The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) is certified
for the management of EU funding, strengthening the implementation of an SAP-based tool to
monitor the readiness for pillars certification, developing exchange formats between EBID and
ECOWAS on the preparation for EU-pillars certification and the provision of training for EBID staff provided by the ECOWAS internal training unit.
The action will ensure continuity and consolidation of the activities supported by the 10th EDF
Support to ECOWAS Public Finance Management Reforms Programme Result 1 Phase II (PFMR1 Phase II), the overall objective of which is to support the ECOWAS Commission in implementing its regional strategy and pursuing its mandate more efficiently and effectively through a better management of its resources. It will also increase the impact and the sustainability of cooperation activities by BMZ in the ECOWAS region since 2014, supporting ECOWAS in the implementation of its Institutional reforms through support to the Commission's strategic orientation with the provision of technical assistance to the Vice-Presidency and support for human resources
Component 2 - Support to Regional Authorizing Officer
• R 2.1: Capacities and knowledge of the RAO-SU and technical directorates for managing and administering the project cycle for regional EDF and other EU resources are enhanced.
•R 2.2: The capacity and mechanisms for policy dialogue and programming between ECOWAS Commission, EU and other development partners are improved.
•R 2.3: Mechanisms for intra-ECOWAS and EBID and external coordination with the EU and development partners are strengthened.
•R 2.4: Knowledge and participation of the ECOWAS Commission in EU and global dialogue in areas of mutual interest are developed and continued.
•R 2.5: Transparency and awareness of the use of EU resources is ensured.
•These results were further re-arranged in the ISE-PE due largely to available funding.
Progress on Results-Result 1-The capacity to coordinate the implementation of the 10th and 11th EDF and Post-Cotonou engagements is strengthened
•Contributed to improved strategic level management (95%) of EDF projects held SC meetings in 2021
•Contributed to ECOWAS participation and ownership (> meeting attendance), (> comments/inputs on EDF related project documents)
•Enhanced rate of addressing issues relating to decision making/signatures at the level of the RAO
•Provided technical support in the programming discussions and development of concept notes for the EU’s new instrument -NDICI
Progress on Results-Result 2 Capacity to support implementation, monitoring, adherence to EDF rules in procurement, contracts and finance; for the 10th, 11th EDF and the Post-Cotonou process is strengthened.
•Contributed to increased rates of implementation ( EDF 11 payment rates moved from <20% in January 2020 to 61% in February 2022)
•Regular collection of data from the EUD to track progress of implementation; produced the first EDF portfolio report by ECOWAS.
• Contributed to reduced turn around time in processing invoices for payments (services, works and supplies) on EDF programmes (between 30-90 days as per EU rules), and reduced project ineligible expenses (less than 5% of audited amounts).
•Contributed to increased understanding of the EDF rules within ECOWAS user departments
Results 2 Cont.. Financial Performance of the EDF 11 Portfolio
Progress on Results-Result 3- Capacity to support IT, Visibility and Communication for EU funded programmes.
•The cell has contributed to enhance the visibility of the EDF programmes using social media handles (facebook, twitter, and Whatsapp) and through the RAO and ECOWAS Websites)
•It currently has over 400,000 followers on social media across all 15 MS in West Africa
•It has supported virtual hosting of over 100 meetings and has provided support to launch of EDF projects.
•Supported the review and implementation of communication and visibility plans.