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General News of Friday, 9 May 2014

Source: Public Agenda

Rhetoric can't achieve regional integration - Hanna Tetteh

Efforts to achieve regional integration within the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) can only be realised if concrete and practical measures are put in place rather than the rhetoric that have been witnessed over the last 40 years, Hon. Hanna Tetteh, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has asserted.

According to Hon Tetteh: “Talking about regional integration will not make it happen. The whole process of regional integration is not about rhetoric, it's about specific concrete actions that will help us to achieve that goal.”

She notes that regional integration is essential as it has the potential of eliminating the delays that take place at the borders which subsequently impedes free flow of goods and services within the ECOWAS sub-region.

The Foreign Affairs Minister made these remarks at the launch of ECOWAS Regional Integration Month in Accra, last week. It was on the theme: “Enhancing Public Sector Participation in Regional Integration.”

She impressed upon African leaders, particularly those of the ECOWAS to put adequate measures in place to address illegalities that take place at the borders in order to make businesses in the sub-region very competitive.

She points out that if nothing is done to deal with the illegalities at the various border posts it will be difficult for the sub-region to achieve industrialisation.

“If we don't do something to address the situation, then how do we hope to have industrialisation and manufacturing taking place on a competitive basis in West Africa and the continent as a whole,” she asked.

She adds: “If we are talking about an ECOWAS of people, then indeed having a joint border post is not something that should have taken us almost 40 years to implement. We are now looking to implement the joint border post at Aflao that should have been done many years ago.”

She further notes that bureaucratic challenges both legal and illegal, which make it difficult for people in the sub-region to transact business successfully, should be dealt with head on.