West Africa takes tentative steps to re-open region after Covid-19 crisis
West African countries that had imposed travel restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19 are contemplating coordinating efforts to allow travelers from countries within the region to enter to conduct cross-border trade.
In a video meeting with the 15-member regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) foreign and trade ministers, a new proposal was tabled to allow cross-border trade within the country bloc by the first two weeks in July.
Ministers look to boost the economy after a near-total shutdown that prevented trade and increased hardships for ECOWAS citizens who live on their day-to-day earnings.
The ministers’ proposal is a three-phased solution that will be discussed at the next heads of state ECOWAS summit.
For phase one, domestic air and land transport would be opened by the end on this month. Some governments have already gone ahead to do this.
For the next phase, land, sea, and air borders within the 15-country bloc would be open by 15 July.
Phase three would allow the region to open to outside countries “with low and controlled levels of Covid-19 contamination rates” by 31 July, but this would depend on how the pandemic plays out.
Although the African continent has not had the high number of cases that countries like the US, France, or China have had, the World Health Organisation said it was worried about the recent rise in cases on the continent.
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