Lack of competent staff at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Secretariat and the integration units of the Ministries had slowed down the regional integration process, Professor Samuel K.B. Asante, Council Member of the African Peer Review Mechanism, said on Monday.
"This disturbing situation confronting ECOWAS and the member-states has been compounded by the lack of training programmes to update skills to enhance the productivity of existing staff," he said.
Professor Asante was speaking at the second regional workshop on capacity building for effective implementation of the programmes for regional cooperation and integration, for which he is the Lead Facilitator.
The five-day workshop would update the skills of participants in regional cooperation and integration, as key elements of the African development strategy.
Organised by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), the workshop brought together top personnel from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and regional economic communities in the ECOWAS Sub-Region.
Professor Asante said without such a systematic and well organized training of the human capital, Ghana and her sister West African countries would find it difficult to implement their respective regional integration mandates.
The programmes for this integration include the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD); the programme of action of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the poverty reduction strategy, he said.
"Undoubtedly; the major causes of the slow progress of ECOWAS and the inability of Member States to implement the numerous protocols, decisions and acts such as the Trade Liberalization Scheme is the apparent lack of institutional and human capital."
Professor Asante said the training programme would provide participants with basic knowledge of regionalism, transmit information on regional integration experiences in Africa at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.
He said Africa could not continue to rely on Europe, America and Asia, among other areas, for its goods and services adding that by coming together, the Continent could share experiences to meet the relevant challenges for regionalism.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister of Education, Science and Sports, said no systematic training had been provided for Senior Civil Servants, Executives and Directors or Senior Managers to increase their capacity for regional cooperation and integration.
He said this had been so despite the documentation of the merits of regionalism as a strategy for socio-economic recovery of the Continent.
The Minister, who pledged the support of the Government to the programme, said the training had been long overdue and commended GIMPA and Professor Asante for the initiative.
Prof Yaw Agyeman-Badu, Deputy Rector of GIMPA, urged the participants to take the workshop seriously in order to grasp the competent skills for handling policy formulation and implementation of issues of regional integration and other relevant sectors of the economy.