Newly Elected RECOWA President Counting “on support of my brothers in the Episcopate”

Bishop Alexis Touably Youlo, elected President of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) on 5 May 2022. Credit: ACI Africa.

The newly elected President of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), has, in an interview with ACI Africa, said he is counting on the support of his brother Bishops as he takes the helm of the body that brings together Catholic Bishops in 16 countries of West Africa.

On Thursday, May 5, members of RECOWA participating in their fourth Plenary Assembly at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Durumi in Abuja elected Bishop Alexis Touably Youlo as their new President. He takes over from Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama who managed the regional body since 2016. 

Speaking to ACI Africa shortly after his election, Bishop Touably expressed his gratitude to RECOWA members for their trust in him, and called on Catholic Bishops in the 16 countries that constitute the regional body to support the new office bearers. 

“I want to first thank God who permitted the Bishops of West Africa to vote me as their president,” he said, and added, “I count on the support of my Brothers in the Episcopate, especially the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI) where I come from and to whom I dedicate this election.”

The Local Ordinary of Ivory Coast’s Diocese of Agboville who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Yamoussoukro Diocese further said, “Through me, it is the whole Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast that is honored.”


“It is an honor that comes with a lot of responsibilities and expectations. So, I count on my Brother Bishops to succeed in this service to the Church,” Bishop Touably told ACI Africa May 5.

RECOWA comprises 154 Catholic Dioceses spread across 11 Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in 16 countries of Anglophone and Francophone Africa. 

The 16 countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinee, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinee Bissau, and Togo.

In the May 5 interview with ACI Africa, the new President of RECOWA looked back at his service at the regional body and acknowledged with appreciation the leadership of his immediate predecessor.

He said, “I was for six years Vice President of RECOWA. Destiny wanted me to continue in the footsteps of my predecessor, Archbishop Igantius Kaigama, who was a very good President.”

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“I will draw inspiration from what he did to bring my own contribution to RECOWA and the Church in West Africa,” the 62-year-old Ivorian Catholic Bishop told ACI Africa.

Asked about the challenges the people of God in the territory covered by RECOWA face, Bishop Touably said, “It is true that we have major challenges in West Africa like poor governance, human rights abuse, poverty, unemployment, ethnocentrism, terrorism and organized crimes, human trafficking, organ trafficking, illegal arms trafficking, international debt burden, drug abuse, migration.”

“The Church through its social doctrine provides answers to all these problems,” the new RECOWA President said, and added, “The Church as a good mother always seeks solutions to all problems.”

He urged members of RECOWA to “confront these challenges not with the spirit of this world but with the spirit of the Gospel because that is our mission.”

“And in the Gospel Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth, and life; let us follow Christ by abiding to the teachings of the Church,” the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Agboville Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in December 2006 told ACI Africa May 5. 


Delegates taking part in the May 2-9 RECOWA Plenary Assembly are deliberating on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity, and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, as well as challenges facing the region in view of strategizing for “sustainable peace”.

Reflecting on the theme of the Plenary Assembly of RECOWA, Bishop Touably said, “We thank God for inspiring Pope Francis to write Fratelli Tutti. I think this document is an updated version of the Gospel.”

“It is the Gospel applied to our daily realities because no matter what we do and where we come from, we form one big family,” the new President of RECOWA told ACI Africa. 

He continued, “We did not have the same past but we shall have the same future whether we like it or not. So, it is in our interest to learn how to live like brothers and sisters; a fraternity that surpasses all boundaries.”

The Ivorian Catholic Bishop invited the people of God in West Africa to pray for the new leadership of RECOWA.

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He explained, “Pray for us because we need your prayers to succeed and we shall also pray for all Christians in West Africa and our continent.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.