Following the September 2015 sub-regional Workshop of the West Africa Think Tank Initiative Network, which saw a number of member Think Tanks of the Think Tank Initiative meet to discuss the formation of a network, the West African Think Tank Network (WATTNet) has been formally launched.The WATTNet which is supported by the Think Tank Initiative (TTI) and the International Development Research Center (IDRC, Canada), comprises a network of ten think tanks from five West African countries with the goal of promoting socio-economic and political development in the sub-region.

The Inaugural Conference of the WATTNet held in Accra, Ghana from 1st – 2nd March 2016 with the theme “Transforming West Africa for Inclusive Development”. The conference brought together participants comprising government officials, policy makers, academics, business leaders, development partners, and heads of think tanks and research institutions from across the sub-region.

  

 The objectives of the conference include: Launch the West African Think Tank Network (WATTNet); Identify, deliberate on, and develop a shared agenda for the transformation and accelerated development of West Africa; Share the findings of research and national policy issues with a view to engendering discussion to inform policy formulation in the sub region; Develop Action Plans that will address critical areas such as Job Creation, Good Governance, Regional Integration and Competitiveness, and Gender Equality; Obtain a Call to Action and commitment from Heads of Government on the Action Plans.The event provided a platform for plenary and group discussions on various issues including: Natural Resource Management, Trade and Regional Integration and Private Sector and Infrastructure for Inclusive Development.  

 Dr. Chukwuka Oyekwena presented a paper on Regional Trade for Inclusive Development in West Africa. The paper examines ECOWAS intra-regional trade and its potentiality for promoting inclusive development in West Africa. It also identifies, poor implementation of identified policy categories by ECOWAS as challenges that can adversely affect the regional trade performance and hinder the capacity of the region in achieving inclusive development. The study recommends that: to increase regional trade, and enhance the contribution of trade to inclusive development in the region, ECOWAS requires a more effective implementation strategy.