It is possible to achieve single currency for West African countries if the countries scale up interregional trade, Dr Mohamed IbnChambas, Chairman, ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme-Task Force has stated.
He said trade between member states in West Africa remains between 10 and 15 per cent over the past decade, accounting for loss of revenue for governments and businesses.
Dr Chambas was speaking at a two-day joint regional workshop for stakeholders of cross border trade and rule of law workshop for Ghana, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Nigeria organised by the POS Foundation in Accra.
Dr Chambas, a Ghanaian diplomat and politician said the workshop which sought to enhance free movement of goods, people, finance and investment could improve the standard of living of small scale traders.
DrChambas, a former Member of Parliament for Bimbilla Constituency in the Northern Region said it had taken too long for Africa to promote economic integration, more than half a century after colonisation.
He told the participants from Anglo-Francophone countries that removing trade barriers was central to the integration of the West-Africa sub-region.
Dr Chambers who was recently the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Head of the West African Office and the Sahel (UNOWAS) asked for collaboration among state institutions, civil society and businesses.
For his part, Mr Jonathan Owusu, the Executive Director of POS Foundation, said Africa could achieve economic emancipation if the countries traded among themselves.
He urged harmonisation of technology and innovation, as well as provision of legal support, which the POS Foundation was seeking to provide to improve trade among member states.
MrOwusu said he believed that Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana’s economic blue print could be the game changer, if governments deployed his industrialisation agenda and economic integration agenda.
Aunty Christine, Queen-mother at Makola Market, said the challenges at the border were enormous and that small scale market women, mostly illiterates were shortchanged in the quest to conduct business in neighbouring West African countries.
While commending the Ministry of Trade on their assurances to address the bottlenecks, she asked for the establishment of a desk to deal with challenges confronting traders.
Dr Muda Yusuf, Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise, identified lack of political will, colonial allegiance by member states, rather than regional interest, political instability, growing insecurity, flawed electoral process, weak manufacturing sectors and inadequate capital for investment, as some of the factors that impeded interregional trade in West Africa.
Dr Yusuf said removal of trade barriers would increase volume of informal trade and ensure economic growth.