WALIC is established by an Act of parliament of the Gambia government called WALIC Act 2016 which also establishes a governing Council to provide strategic advice and guidance for the operation of the Centre. The 15 member Council comprises of regional representatives mainly from West African member states, institutions, organizations and technical experts. Membership of the Council consist of the Minister of agriculture of the Gambia or his/her delegation, Director of AU-IBAR, Commissioner of the ECOWAS Commission for agriculture, environment and water resources, Executive Director of CORAF/WECARD, Decision makers from five ECOWAS member states, regional farmer organization, regional Non-Government Organization, and four experts. As the Centre strives to be fully operational, it is therefore paramount to make the Council functional to drive the processes of programming, resource mobilization, and overseeing implementation of approved annual work plans of the Centre.
The objective of this meeting was to induct the new WALIC Council members and conduct the first meeting that would lay down the process of operationalizing the Centre.
The first WALIC Council meeting was held on the 29-30th October 2019, at WALIC Conference hall, Kerr Serigne, Banjul, The Gambia. Twelve council members present at the meeting were: Mr. Lamin CAMARA, permanent secretary, ministry of agriculture, Gambia.; Dr. Mohamad FOUAD representing ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources; Dr. Dame SOW representing Senegal’s minister of livestock and animal production; Dr. Daoda BANGOURA representing Guinea’s minister of livestock; Dr. Bernardo CASSAMA representing Guinea Bissau’s minister of agriculture and forestry; Dr. Sagre BAMBANGI representing Ghana’s minister of state for livestock; Dr. Aliyu Chafe DANLAMI representing Nigeria’s minister of agriculture and rural development; Mr. Gordi HAMMADOU representing ROPPA; three experts – Prof Olanrewaju SMITH, Dr. Assan JAYE, and Dr Bonto FABURAY; and Dr. Arss SECKA, OIC WALIC as ex-officio member. WALIC staff, print and electronic media, drivers and caterers facilitated the meeting.
The meeting was started with an opening ceremony, followed by presentations with discussions, chatting of the way forward for the full operationalization of the Council and WALIC, conducted tour around the Centre, staff briefing and ended with a closing ceremony.
Final communique of the meeting is summarized as follows:
• The Council is highly convinced that the infrastructure for research and innovation available at WALIC stations such as laboratories, office complex, houses, and animal farms are so valuable that it should never be left to dilapidate. The structures should be brought up to date for use by stakeholders in the livestock sector within the ECOWAS region.
• The Council is commending the Gambia government for its will and benevolence to put this Centre to the common use and co-ownership by ECOWAS member states, and for maintaining and preserving the assets and skeletal staff throughout the long transformation process to the operationalization of WALIC. The Council is therefore recommending that Gambia Government should continue providing more incentives to the staff on board until such time that the Centre is fully funded and operational.
• In recognition of the many efforts, energy and resources spent so far on the transformation and operationalization process of WALIC, Council is recommending that it should continue to pursue the path of developing bankable regional livestock programs and projects that would be used to mobilize resources for implementation in ECOWAS member states through the support of ECOWAS Commission.
• The advocacy and sensitization of ECOWAS member states should be intensified by the government of The Gambia to get buy-ins of more countries for the recognition of WALIC as a regional Centre of excellence and technical arm of ECOWAS Commission on livestock. The support of WALIC Council and ECOWAS Commission are needed in this process.
• Finally, the Council wish to thank the Government of The Gambia for spearheading and financing the holding of this successful inaugural council meeting and supporting the transformation and operationalization of WALIC.