Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has called on African leaders in the ECOWAS sub-region to fast track regional integration.
She said regional integration would do away with the delays that take place at the borders which impede free flow of goods and services within the sub-region.
Ms Tetteh, who was speaking at the launch of Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Regional Integration Month in Accra, called for adequate measures to address illegalities that take place at the borders in order to make businesses in the sub-region very competitive.
?If we don?t do something to address the situation, then how do we hope to have industrialization and manufacturing taking place on a competitive basis in West Africa and the continent as a whole,? he quizzed.
Ms. Tetteh said regional integration was very essential to achieving growth in the sub-region to compete with other world?s economies.
?It is very appropriate that we draw our attention as a country and region to regional integration at a time when the issue has become a matter of public debate and engagement.
?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 said.
Ms. Tetteh said, ?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.
?It is time for a rethink with the view to accelerating the process of regional integration. We all want to have African Unity, we all want to have regional integration and we have agreed to the treaties and framework. The time is now for us to act.?
The bureaucratic challenges both legal and illegal that make it difficult for people in the sub-region to transact business successfully should be dealt away with, Ms Tetteh said.
These are the things we have to focus on to ensure it becomes competitive and productive for people to look at the sub-region and the continent as an area they would like to do business.
This year?s integration month was on theme, ?Enhancing Public Sector Participation in regional integration.?
By Cephas Larbi