GDCA urges inclusive trade policy-making process 

Press conference in Tamale
Press conference in Tamale

Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), a local NGO dedicated to strengthening local governance, has called for an inclusive trade policy-making process where local governments are actively engaged ensuring their unique needs and opportunities are catered for.

Alhaji Osman Abdel-Rahman, Executive Director of GDCA, who made the call at a press conference in Tamale on Thursday,  emphasised need for continuous investment in capacity-building for local governments to engage effectively in intra-African trade initiatives.

Alhaji Abdel-Rahman said, “Decentralised entities are not just administrative units; they are crucial hubs for trade and economic activity,” hence, need for measures to enable them to participate in trade policies.

The press conference was organised by the GDCA with support from the Empowerment for Life Programme to mark this year’s African Decentralisation and Local Development Day.

On 10th August, every year, African Union (AU) Member States celebrate the African Decentralisation and Local Development Day, and it is a well-established tradition that the theme of the celebration is aligned with the AU’s theme of the year.

The AU’s chosen theme for this year is: “Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).”

Alhaji Abdel-Rahman argued that while the AfCFTA initiative presented a huge potential for local development, the successful realisation of the gains required an unwavering commitment to transparent governance and the active involvement of all stakeholders hence need for an inclusive trade policy-making process.

He expressed the need for harmonisation of local and continental regulations saying “A patchwork of local regulations can stifle trade. It is imperative that while local interests are protected, there is a move towards harmonising standards to facilitate seamless trade across the continent.”

He urged policymakers to adopt strategies to ensure that all regions, regardless of their current trade capacities, could benefit equitably from the AfCFTA.

He underscored the importance of feedback mechanisms saying, “grassroots feedback can provide invaluable insights into the real-world implications of trade policies” adding, “We support the creation of robust mechanisms to capture these insights.”

He touched on addressing social and environmental concerns, noting that “in our push for development, we must never lose sight of our social and environmental responsibilities” saying, “Local governance entities are often at the forefront of these issues and should play a pivotal role in shaping trade policies that are sustainable and just.”

Alhaji Abdel-Rahman said, “With the potential rise in revenues due to increased trade, GDCA emphasises the importance of transparent and equitable distribution of resources to ensure sustainable development at the grassroots level.”

He gave assurance of GDCA’s continued commitment to championing the cause of local governance in the country saying, “We believe that a decentralised approach, coupled with the massive potential of the AfCFTA, can lead to unparalleled socio-economic growth for our nation and the broader African continent.”

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