The ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) is holding a training workshop for national stakeholders on consumer protection case management from 10 to 14 June 2024 in Lome, Togo.

In accordance with its mandate, the ERCA represents ECOWAS on consumer protection issues. It is responsible for implementing Directive A/DIR.2/07/23 on consumer protection adopted by the Conference of Heads of State and Government at their ordinary session held on 9 July 2023 in Bissau.

The aim of the training is to enable the relevant players in the Member States to gain a better understanding of the provisions and implications of this directive, and of the main issues relating to the management of consumer protection cases. These include: the importance of competition policy for consumers; consumer protection bodies; handling consumer protection cases; consumer association groups; policy advocacy; consumer education and empowerment; consumer protection issues in key sectors; handling cross-border consumer protection issues.

The opening ceremony was marked by speeches from Dr Siméon KOFFI, Executive Director of ERCA , Ambassador Barros Bacar BANJAI, ECOWAS Resident Representative to the Togolese Republic, and Mr Comlan YAKPEY, Secretary General, representing Mrs Kayi MIVEDOR-SAMBIANI, Minister for Trade, Craft Industry and Local Consumption of the Togolese Republic.

In his speech, the Executive Director of the ERCA welcomed the distinguished presence of the personalities at the opening ceremony, as well as all the participants expected to attend the regional training workshop on consumer protection.

Presenting the objectives of the training session, the Executive Director indicated that the workshop basically marks the start of the implementation of the training programme for national and regional stakeholders on consumer protection as provided for in the missions of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority.

He recalled that the workshop aims to build the capacity of stakeholders in the Member States involved in competition and consumer protection issues. It will not only be an opportunity to share knowledge and experience, but also a platform for forging lasting and fruitful connections between stakeholders in the region’s Member States on consumer protection issues.

The ECOWAS Resident Representative to the Republic of Togo pointed out that the close collaboration between the ERCA and the protection structures of the Member States had led to the adoption by the Conference of Heads of State and Government, at its ordinary session on 09 July 2023, of the Directive on Consumer Protection in the ECOWAS region.

He stated that the said Directive aims to establish a general framework for consumer protection in ECOWAS States in line with the best international standards, in particular the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection.

The Resident Representative pointed out that the Commission is inviting Member States to take all necessary measures to implement the framework set out in the Directive on consumer protection in a context of international change that exposes consumers to shocks and uncertainties linked to political and security crises. He said that by organising this training session, the ECOWAS Commission was demonstrating its commitment to working with Member States to consolidate the consumer protection framework in order to make a significant contribution to the well-being of the people of our region.

At the beginning of his speech, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Trade, Handicrafts and Local Consumption of the Togolese Republic expressed his country’s gratitude to the President of the ECOWAS Commission for the continuous support their country receives in the implementation of community programmes and projects.

The Secretary General also thanked the Executive Director of ERCA for choosing Lomé to host this training session. He stressed that the workshop demonstrates the willingness of the ECOWAS Commission, through ERCA, to contribute to strengthening fair trade and consumer protection. He also called on ECOWAS to provide appropriate responses to the smuggling phenomena that are hampering the application of competition rules, and even the viable growth of Member States.

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Trade, Crafts and Local Consumption of the Togolese Republic pointed out that despite the existence of national and Community legal instruments, consumer rights in ECOWAS Member States are not fully respected. It is therefore necessary to step up awareness-raising on consumer protection.