WEST AFRICAN LEADERS URGED TO ADDRESS IMPEDIMENTS TO INTEGRATION

ACCRA, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana has urged his counterparts in the West African sub-region to address speedily the political impediments to regional integration in order to make the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a more effective economic bloc.

ECOWAS leaders ought to demonstrate the political will for a faster integration process as this would promote the envisioned economic co-operation among the 15 member States to engender solidarity and collective self-reliance in the Community and make the sub-region more prosperous for its peoples, he said when addressing the 42nd Anniversary of ECOWAS Day organized by the Centre for Regional Integration Africa here Tuesday.

Citing the processes which led to the establishment of the European Union (EU), President Akufo-Addo noted that the EU, which has one currency and free movement of goods, services and people across 27 countries, has a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 16.5 trillion US dollars making it the second largest economy in the world.

The single currency, the euro, has increased efficiency, lowered the cost of doing business and improved transparency in pricing. The overall effect has been to make Europe a much stronger economic and political player on the world stage, he said.

Unlike the EU which has today become central to the lives of Europeans, ECOWAS was somewhat peripheral to the lives of most West Africans, noted President Akufo-Addo. It is not for the lack of plans or even rules and regulations. It is simply that the political will to make integration real has been less evident than in Europe.

He cited the non-implementation of policies such as the introduction of a common currency, a Common Agricultural Policy, the West African Power Pool, and a Common Tariff Regime among other things as examples of good policies which are yet to be put into effect despite being on the books of ECOWAS.

The European Union took off because the political leadership of France and Germany decided to make it work. Once the political will is evident, we can then work together to make ECOWAS a true regional market, he said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK