ECOWAS: ‘Travelling from Ghana to Nigeria is like going through hell’ – ISODEC

By Lawrence Quartey

Posted on June 9, 2011 15:36

The ECOWAS Regional Integration effort is not moving as expected because of lack of commitment and poor communication among stakeholders, according to a Ghana-based NGO.

On Thursday, Dr Yakubu Zakaria, director of programmes of ISODEC, (Integrated Social Development Centre), said since the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, little progress has been made as far as its objectives are concerned and “any time ECOWAS is mentioned it is about heads of states and nobody hears about ECOWAS in the community”.

“Most of you here have travelled before and you could see that travelling from Ghana to Nigeria is like going through hell.

“Today ECOWAS wants to change this trend and make it an ECOWAS of the people,” he told participants from non-state-actors at Sunyani in the middle part of Ghana as part of the Centre’s effort to promote education on the ECOWAS integration process.

“…the only way to curb poverty in the sub-region is to open the borders of the various countries constituting the regional body and allow for free movement and trade among citizens of the sub-region.”

The Centre, Dr Zakaria says, has identified huge information gaps among non-state actors on the free movements of goods and services in the regional integration process.

However, he assures that the new vision of ECOWAS at the community level will ensure that citizens live in a developed and integrated region where all the 15 national economies are fused into one integrated, competitive and resilient market.

Continuing the education at Navrongo in the Upper East Region, north of Ghana, Dr Zakaria says ISODEC aims to build the capacity of non-state-actors on issues of regional integration towards the realization of a custom union and common market in West Africa.

The ISODEC project, Dr Zakaria notes, is intended to launch an ECOWAS brigade in the northern, middle and southern zones to promote a border transparency index. The project will allow for smooth movement of goods and services, and also help find out which borders performed well or badly.

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