Abdallah Boureima : Viewpoint

On October 24, 2013 the Conference of Heads of State and Government of UEMOA inaugurated an annual review through Act No. 05/2013/CCEG/UEMOA to encourage members to accelerate the implementation of reforms, policies, programmes and community projects within the union. In application of the act’s provisions on the modalities for the review’s implementation, Decision No. 13/2013/CM/UEMOA from December 19, 2013 provides for an evaluation of the reforms and the state of implementation of community projects and programmes, the summary report of which is submitted to the union’s higher authorities. The journal’s first two editions, held in 2014 and 2015, laid out the conditions for making progress in the transposition and application of community texts. In addition, they generated strong support among the states for undertaking the exercise. This dynamic continued with the third annual review, which took place in all UEMOA member states from October 23 to December 20, 2017.

In 2017 the evaluation covered 64 directives and 58 regulations, decisions and additional protocols. 26 of these texts were related to economic governance and convergence, 32 texts corresponded to the improvement of common market conditions and 58 texts addressed sector reforms. Between 2012 and 2017 UEMOA significantly improved its average rate of reform implementation at the community level, reaching 62% in 2017, compared to 44% in 2012. This performance is attributable to member states’ efforts on sector reforms. The 2017 review also covered 129 community programmes and projects implemented in member states worth a total of CFA421.6bn (€632m), which were financed from the union’s own resources.

Having said this, there are some disparities by area. The rate of policy implementation relative to economic governance reached 66%, while the rate relative to common market policies was 57%. While progress has been made, there are still obstacles to overcome. Further improving the rate of reform implementation will require a strong political impetus, sustained state commitments and capacity building in a number of areas.

Efforts should continue towards the implementation of the pact on convergence, stability, growth and solidarity through, among other things, the exercise of multilateral surveillance and capacity building of member states in terms of technical means, financial studies and analysis, technical assistance and training intended to improve macroeconomic performance.

Technical support and capacity building should focus on modernising member states’ public financial management frameworks, while the necessary coordination actions should be taken to implement the reform programme regarding public market action and the reform of domestic tax regimes, improving the efficiency of public spending and debt sustainability.

Most of the work needed to build the common market should be focused on the establishment of systems to coordinate the management of Customs administrations at the borders, to dematerialise Customs formalities and to strengthen the Customs union by instituting a system of free practice. Similarly, efforts will be made to eliminate obstacles of all kinds that hinder the free movement of people, goods and services. In this regard, steps are being taken to introduce a single-entry visa for non-EU citizens.

In the context of spatial planning, work on the establishment of spatial governance instruments and support for decentralisation and cross-border cooperation should be continued. The observation of abnormal road practices could be reinforced to help improve the fluidity of intra-community traffic. Actions should also be stepped up for the application of the regulation on gauge, weight and axle load control in order to better protect road infrastructure.

To promote the private sector, actions could focus on improving the regional business climate, adopting a community investment code and implementing a legal framework conducive to public-private partnerships.