20.07.2006 Africa

Why ECOWAS Is Crawling

By Ghanaian Times
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LACK of institutional and human capacity is the cause of the slow progress of integration among the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS.

Because of those problems, the countries are unable to implement the numerous protocols and decisions set out by ECOWAS due to lack of institutional and human capacity.

Professor Samuel K.B. Asante, Council Member of the National African Peer Review Mechanism Governing Council, made these observations on Monday at the opening of a five-day training programme in regional cooperation and integration.

“The ECOWAS Secretariat and the integration units of the ministries can be characterised as organisations beset by weak institutional and human capacity. They are all competent staff necessary to articulate and drive a regional integration process,” he said.

The programme, being attended by about 30 participants in managerial positions from Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d' Ivoire, is aimed at fostering understanding of regional integration as key element of African development strategy.

It is also aimed at promoting capacity-building for effective management of the process of regional cooperation on the continent.

Prof Asante called for the adoption of systematic programmes among West African states to facilitate the development of the sub-region in order to meet the demands contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He said that the problem had also been compounded by the lack of training programmes to update the skills and also enhance the productivity of the existing staff.

Both the ECOWAS Secretariat and the member states, he said, lack a strategic planning or training policy or programmes to equip the staff with the requisite skills and expertise.

He called for the adoption of a partnership between Ghana and Burkina Faso to facilitate the establishment of a factory to produce canned beef for the ECOWAS sub-region.

He noted that the over-reliance of the country on canned beef from Argentina and other countries affects the significance of the regional integration in the development of the ECOWAS sub-region.

Prof. Asante urged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to ask the ministries, department and agencies to make adequate provisions for capacity-building in their training programmes.

Opening the programme, the Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Papa Owusu Ankomah, stressed the need for African countries to reduce the prevailing poverty level on the continent by facilitating industrialisation and strengthening the African trade.

That, he said, would enable the continent to meet the challenges of today's globalised economy, which had resulted in liberalization and changes in technological advancement.

He called for systematic training for the country's senior civil servants, executives and directors of both government and private institutions to increase their capacity to meet the challenges of Regional Integration and New Partnership for Africa's Development.

He expressed the hope that the training would provide the participants the competent skills to handle policy formulation and implementation of issues.

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