Reviewing the Region’s Progress in Reaching the Goals of the Second Decade of Education for Africa: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Credited with unusually high rates of economic growth over the last decade against the backdrop of a severe global financial crisis, African countries are touted as the next destination for foreign direct investment and future champions of economic vitality. Growth in the continent’s sub-Saharan region is estimated to rise by 5.2 per cent in 2014.

Domestic demand, particularly the rising consumption, investment, and government spending on productive activities have been the main drivers of growth in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The ECOWAS Commission also attributes the discovery of oil and solid mineral resources in some of its Member States as significant to the region’s growth rate of 6.4 per cent in 2012 compared to 5.9 per cent in 2011. Nigeria, the sub-region’s largest economy, grew by 7¼ per cent in 2011 while Ghana recorded the highest growth rate of 13½ per cent in 2011. Guinea’s and Togo’s recorded positive GDP growth rates in 2011 would have been higher in the absence of political disturbances and insecurity in the two countries. In contrast, Côte d’Ivoire’s economy shrank by close to 5 per cent in 2011 due to political uncertainty arising from the 2010 elections. Benin, on the other hand, is slowly recovering from the devastating flood in 2010, growing by 3 per cent in 2011 up from 2½ per cent in 2010. To mitigate the challenges of conflict and a volatile political setting and address its economic vulnerabilities, the ECOWAS region has to develop diversified interventions to expand opportunities for growth and a skill-base for its youthful population.

Beyond the African Union’s soon-ending Second Decade of Education for Africa, education and training continues to resonate with the continental body’s 50-year “Agenda 2063” strategy, placing a premium on human capacity development and youth empowerment. This brief explores ECOWAS progress in achieving the goals of the Second Decade, which stretches from 2006 to 2015, to help answer the “what next” question in the post-2015 development agenda.