PRESIDENT OF THE ECOWAS COMMISSION

MARCEL A. DE SOUZA: A SEASONED ADMINISTRATOR AT THE HELM OF THE ECOWAS COMMISSION

The 48th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held on 17 December 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria allocated the post of President of the regional organisation’s Commission to Benin for the period covering March 2016 to February 2018.

Marcel A. de Souza was appointed by Benin to occupy this position, thus taking over from Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo. He took over the organisation on 8 April 2016.

In his inaugural address, Mr. de Souza immediately made his position known.

«As I take the helm of our organisation…I undertake to pursue the institutional reforms in order to control costs and attain the integration goals, enhance governance and management as well as the credibility of our institution, and save our Community from its severe lethargy, viz: human resource efficiency, stringent financial management, greater synergy in the organisation of administration and conferences, restoration of rules of ethics and procedures in office automation and programming», he disclosed.

The first initiatives of the new ECOWAS Commission boss concerned the temporary suspension, for six (06) months, starting 25 April 2016, of missions, seminars and workshops organised outside Abuja, which staff member have to attend. This measure is intended to enable the institution make substantial savings, while expecting an improvement in its critical financial situation. This notwithstanding, the measure will not affect missions, conferences and seminars fully funded by ECOWAS development partners.

Another major decision taken by Mr. de Souza to consolidate the organisation’s financial resources – a first in the history of the institution – was to considerably reduce the number of Commission’s staff attending the statutory meetings scheduled for May and June 2016 in Dakar, Senegal. These included the 19th meeting of the Administration and Finance Committee, the 36th session of the Mediation and Security Council, the 76th meeting of the Council of Ministers and the 49th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

The head of ECOWAS’ executive body also introduced a Cabinet meeting comprising Management members, which will meet every Wednesday to consider major issues and the functioning of the institution. This is akin to Cabinet meetings in most of our Member States.

These significant measures taken by the new Commission President are already positively welcomed by the various institutions and ECOWAS Member States. These measures have come as no surprise to those who knew Marcel de Souza.

The new Commission’s principal is described as a seasoned economist and administrator.

Born on 30 October 1953 at Pobè in Benin, Marcel A. de Souza holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Dakar as well as a specialised Master’s Degree in Management and Banking at the West African Training Centre for Banking Studies (COFEB).

He completed his training at the prestigious International Monetary Fund (IMF) Institute in Washington, United States. Prior to that, Mr. de Souza obtained two High School Leaving Certificates in his native country: the first, with major in Mathematics and the second, majoring in Biology. He later imparted this valuable knowledge to students of Collège Sacré-Cœur (Canadian High School) of Dakar from 1976 to 1978.

He held several positions including that of Internal Controller at BCEAO Head Office in Cotonou, BCEAO National Director for Benin, and thereafter Director of Administration at the headquarters of the same financial institution in Dakar.

In Benin, he was Member of Parliament at the National Assembly, Head of Department of Economic and Financial Affairs in the Office of the President, and subsequently Special Adviser to the President on Monetary and Banking Affairs.

He served as Minister for Development, Economic Analysis and Forecast from May 2011 to June 2015. In that capacity, he was Benin’s Governor to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and member of the Council of Ministers of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

On the political front, Marcel A. de Souza has been the Chairman of Benin Republican Front (FRB) since 2009, and unsuccessful candidate in the March 2016 presidential election.

Mr. de Souza’s other activities include member of the Inter-State High Council of Benin Electricity Company (CEB), member of the Board of Directors of the Cotton Development Company (SODECO), and member of the Board of Directors of the National Savings Bank (CNE) from 1990 to 1996.

President of the Benin National Swimming Federation from 1999 to 2003, Marcel A. de Souza was also member of the National Commission on Denationalisation and Transfer of public sector assets to the private sector from 1992 to 1994 and member intuiti personae of the National Commission on Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) Negotiations with the IMF and the World Bank from 1989 to 1990.

The man who has taken over the reins of the ECOWAS Commission since 8 April 2016, is married and will be blowing out 63 candles on 30 October this year.

He is fluent in French and has knowledge of English and German.