Prodi made the comments after meeting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Mali. Algeria is seen as important to any military operation, but it has been hesitant to get involved, preferring a negotiated solution.
While not a member of ECOWAS, Algeria is seen as key due to its superior military capabilities, intelligence services and experience battling Islamist extremism. Algeria also shares a 1,400km border with Mali.
The ECOWAS military strategy presented to the ministers on Friday was drawn up with the help of experts from the EU, African Union, UN and the region, and adopted by regional army chiefs this week.