The 102nd session of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States has ended in Brussels with the full participation of Sierra Leone delegation headed by the Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Alhaji F.B.L. Mansaray. He was accompanied throughout the session (23-25 November) by Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie, Madam Amy Bintu Myers from the National Authorising Office and Esther Sesay, the Policy Analyst in the Finance Ministry.
The session brought together officials from 79 ACP countries who took decisions on key development issues, as well as institutional matters involving the future of the organisation.
Chaired by the Minister of Finance from the Kingdom of Lesotho, Dr. Mamphono Khaketla, the Council welcomed the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, as keynote speaker at the opening ceremony on Tuesday 24th November at the ACP House.
“This Council session takes place at a very critical time, in the midst of major global summits on trade, climate change, and other essential aspects related to development. Moreover, the ACP Group of countries is at a juncture where we must ask fundamental, existential questions about how the organisation can contribute in an effective way that impacts on our peoples’ lives, in light of all the global challenges we face today,” said ACP Secretary General H.E Dr. Patrick I. Gomes. “It is essential to engage strategically during this period.”
Aside from approving the 2016 budget for the ACP Secretariat, the Council also took major decisions including those on the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government, outlooks on the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21, the WTO Ministerial conference in Nairobi, amongst others.
Ministers also held deliberations on the ACP Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Forum, and the future of ACP-EU relations.
The Council further approved the offer by the Government of Papua New Guinea to host the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government on 30 May – 1 June 2016, as well as approve the theme of the Summit with the head of the Sierra Leone delegation, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray appealing to Council members for representation at the highest level of government at that Summit in Papua New Guinea.
The ACP Group of States has been in existence since 1975, working primarily with the European Community (later the European Union) in dealing with trade, development cooperation (via the European Development Fund) and political dialogue between EU and ACP countries. As the current partnership with Europe comes to a close in 2020, both sides are reflecting on the nature of the cooperation in the future, particularly in view of new development challenges of the 21st century, geopolitical shifts, and the post-2015 development agenda.
The amount available in the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (2014-2020) for ACP countries is approximately €31.5 billion. Of this, €3.59 billion is allocated for the Intra-ACP envelope, which supports intra-ACP and inter-regional cooperation, finances the joint institutions and bodies, and assists with running the ACP Secretariat.
After two years of processing, the ACP-EU Intra-ACP Strategy Paper was officially signed on the 26th November, in the margins of the 102nd session of the ACP Council of Ministers. The main programming areas under the Intra-ACP envelope include human and social development (€1.165 billion); climate change, resilience building, and the environment (€475 million); support for private sector development and investment (€600 million) and the African Peace Facility (€900 million), with a further €215 million for institutional support.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Sierra Leone Embassy,
Notes on pics:
1. Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
2. Head of Sierra Leone delegation, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray
3. Ambassador Sorie and Mrs Amy Bintu Myers