ECOWAS urged to create shared border to promote internal movement

Ecowas Logo
Ecowas Logo

Mr Thomas Mbomba, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, says to promote the internal movement of people, products, and services across Africa, ECOWAS members must have a shared external border.

He said there is the need to have a shared external border for ECOWAS countries, saying it would make West Africa a border-free zone to ease movement.

Speaking at a stakeholder workshop on ‘Promoting Small Scale Cross Border Trade, Rule of Law and Use of Technology in West Africa’, Mr Mbomba said ECOWAS had put in place a feasible framework to facilitate free movement of people throughout West Africa as a preliminary to market integration.

The mechanisms include no entrance visas for community citizens, the right of residence and establishment, an ECOWAS Identity Card, an ECOWAS Passport, and the Brown Card Insurance Scheme to ease vehicular transit between member states.

He said the ECOWAS Passport and the Identity Cards were symbols of unity adopted to eliminate rigid border formalities and enhance the modernization of border procedures with passport-scanning machines and harmonized immigration forms designed to facilitate free and easier movement of persons across borders.

Mr Mbomba said the competitiveness of a country’s industry in the current global market economy was mainly dependent on the world trading system.

This, he said, was crucial to the performance and consequently the survival of industries all over the world.

Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director of POS Foundation, said the time had come for Africa to devote its time and resources to develop coordinated, coherent, and unified technological platforms that successfully connect with the region’s diverse institutions.

He urged Africans to take advantage of their continent’s variety in order to achieve long-term progress for its people.

“I am strongly of the opinion that when systems within the region are unified, it will ease the stress and facilitate a smooth transaction of business and trade at the borders,” he noted.

Mr Owusu said Africa had to rise up and embrace proper technology in order to facilitate the coordination of systems across the region.

It will also ensure that immigration, customs, health, and border control agencies and departments were capable of monitoring and tracking movements of people, goods, and services along approved and unapproved routes.

He said business and trade could only prosper in an environment where rules and policies were in place and as such the POS Foundation sought to promote small scale border trade.

He said when laws obstructed development and trade, they must be reformed, repealed, or replaced.

Mr Owusu stressed that “ the diversity in dynamism which exists within our respective countries must be a fuel for change- it must provide a platform for which a unified and harmonized system is created to facilitate trade movement across the borders and increase economic independence”.

He encouraged Africans countries to organize themselves and their governments to coordinate efforts among states, strengthen current processes and institutions, and focus on the benefits that Africa has to offer such as human and natural resources.

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