The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States organized an off-center meeting in Burkina Faso under the title ” Cryptocurrency as a facilitator of community trade in West Africa We met the Director of Parliamentary Affairs and Research at the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria, Bertin Soume, who was present in Ouagadougou. In the following lines, he returns to the ECOWAS Parliament and the meeting that has been located.
Burkina24 (B24): Can you introduce us to the ECOWAS Parliament?
Bertin Somme (BS): The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States is one of the main institutions of the Economic Community of West African States. It is an international organization. In terms of governance, we have the ruling wing, the legislative wing, and the judicial wing. These are the three forces uniting within the Economic Community of West African States.
Parliament is the legislative body of the Economic Community of West African States. It should be noted that the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States does not formally adopt a law, but gives its opinion on a certain number of decisions and texts of the community.
Today we are one of the regional places where you can move freely without a visa.
We of course have the power to legislate only the laws of the community that apply to the entire ECOWAS community.
B24: What can the ECOWAS Parliament contribute to the lives of West Africans?
BS: The Economic Community of West African States was created as a forum for monetary and economic integration. Parliament expresses its views, especially with regard to integration. In the past, we have given advice. Within the framework of movements, in particular the free movement of people and goods in the ECOWAS region. We have taken a lot of recommendations and texts in this direction. Today we are one of the regional places where you can move freely without a visa.
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We also made a lot of recommendations with regard to curbing illegal immigration. Parliament has undertaken several fact-finding missions to denounce African youth, and in particular to make them aware of the opportunities that exist in our region.
Parliament has also been involved in many missions related to sub-regional security. Do not forget that at the political level, the House of Representatives is also involved in observing the elections that take place in all the countries of the sub-region. This means that Parliament is involved in the whole process of integration of the sub-regions.
B24: The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States organized an unspecified meeting in Burkina Faso. What explains this?
BS: The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) annually adopts a plan of action for this year. Among the activities for this year 2021, we have what we call non-local meetings. It is simply the meetings of the permanent committees of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States that take place outside the seat of Parliament in Abuja.
These meetings are organized on the basis of specific topics that have already been adopted by the plenary session of Parliament. It is therefore appropriate for the deputies to examine these various subjects which we call in the parliamentary language of self-referrals.
Referrals are made when the commission or other institutions approach Parliament to seek its opinion. But apart from these formal referrals, Parliament can also take matters into its own hands.
For example, hot questions in the hour, the House of Representatives seizes and meets, and makes recommendations that are adopted by the plenary. Once adopted, these recommendations are sent to the governing bodies of the Economic Community of West African States namely the Council of Ministers and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
Before becoming a provincial parliamentarian, the deputy is primarily a citizen. The spirit of these non-local meetings aims to bring parliamentarians closer to the population who elected them.
B24: What dominated the cryptocurrency theme for this unspecified meeting? Is there a correlation between cryptocurrency and the choice of Burkina Faso?
BS: National and international economies are developing. Today, if you see how international finance is developing, people are no longer walking around with a lot of money in their pockets. It’s very rare. We did not start with exchanges with barter and then with physical currency. We started with the cowboys, then didn’t go to tickets. After observation, we didn’t invent magnetic cards to stop people walking around with money.
Today, physical money itself is the subject of laundering. Right now, you can only have ten thousand dollars in your pocket for travel. You will be arrested and you will have to justify.
It is the development of international finance that therefore compels us to provide information to MPs.
So among the reforms, today we have written money that is different from the physical money that we know.
We are in the default system and that is what cryptocurrency is. I started a long time ago. We agree that you pay something at fixed parity and give me good.
It is the development of international finance that, therefore, prompts us to provide information to MPs about how the world is developing. One of the tasks of Parliament is to ensure that the MPs are informed about all national and international activities in all areas of life.
In this sense, the topic was chosen to convey information to the deputies. Today we have many challenges. The first challenge is security in our space. But this does not prevent the deputies from obtaining the correct and timely information to allow them to present their proposals and to make recommendations on how to better understand this more and more evolving biblical currency.
The choice of Burkina Faso was not accidental. Cryptocurrency is also experienced here. We have in our session experts in this field and practitioners who came to tell us a little about how to conduct their transactions in this biblical currency. So we know that throughout the sub-region things are going very quickly and which country is chosen, first of all MPs must have the information. We come based not only on local experiences but also on international experts who we travel from all over the world to explain.
B24: What would the follow-up be at the end of this meeting?
BS: Usually when we have our meetings we produce a report. The report is generally supported by the strong recommendations we have made to the ECOWAS authorities.
We must not ignore the development of the world, especially international finance today.
Our recommendations are to ensure that this currency is better structured and regulated. Allow African countries, especially the countries of the ECOWAS region, to integrate into this international movement. We must not ignore the development of the world, especially international finance today. ECOWAS countries must necessarily be able to integrate.
It is normal for those at the root of the legislation to have the information. There will necessarily be a sequel. After the meeting, we will see how to participate in order to get more structuring in the cryptocurrency.
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Today, everything is virtual and the Covid-19 virus has come to show us the importance of everything virtual. If we can examine and discuss topics virtually, then we can think of virtual exchanges today. In this sense, our recommendations will be forwarded to the Assembly of Heads of State to say here what Parliament would like the Assembly of Heads of State to share with us tomorrow.
B24: As part of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the borders have been closed. What currently prevents the opening of the borders in the ECOWAS region?
BS: Most of the borders have reopened. Nigeria has already opened its borders with Niger, Benin and Ghana. In terms of integration, it was a huge blow to the Economic Community of West African States.
True, residents outside the official corridors kept moving. You can’t have a big cargo truck and go into the bush to go out to another country.
Very soon, all ECOWAS countries will open their borders
We understand that. President Rosh Kabore has been designated a champion of the free movement of people and goods. Thanks to his mediation, today we have a number of countries that have reopened their borders.
It is true that there are still a few countries, but today we all know that COVID-19 is now making history. As Europe is being vaccinated more and more even if we are talking about the third wave or something different Indian, it is true, we are aware of that. But nevertheless, there was a clear setback. I believe that very soon all the countries of the ECOWAS region will open their borders for the happiness of our peoples and the happiness of trade.
The interview was conducted by Julius Caesar Kaboré
24- Burkina Faso