A fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Professor Samuel Kinsley Botwe Asante, has recommended that government reconsider the establishment of a separate ministry for Regional Cooperation and NEPAD.
The Professor said this was because the merging of the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed a lack of commitment to regionalism and Pan-Africanism on the part of the government.
Prof. Asante made the suggestion during the last of the three-series 40th J. B. Danquah Memorial Lectures under the broad theme: "Ghana and the Promotion of Pan-Africanism and Regionalism."
Speaking on: "Ghana: Opportunities and Challenges of Pan-Africanism and Regionalism Today", Prof. Asante noted that the current arrangement, where Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, were placed in the same ministry with Foreign Affairs "does not give high profile recognition to the seriousness of Government's commitment to regionalism and Pan-Africanism".
He said the merger made it difficult for Ghana, among other things, to integrate NEPAD principles, priorities and strategies into the national development process to demonstrate Government's commitment to implementing NEPAD.
Prof. Asante said instead of placing NEPAD under the Foreign Ministry, the separation was a better option to allow for the creation of NEPAD Desk in each relevant ministry to ensure broad-based, technical integration of all NEPAD priorities.
He also proposed that Government should establish a National NEPAD Steering Committees (NNSC), with representations from civil society, labour unions, the media and corporate private sector to popularise the NEPAD document.
"With Ghana as host of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) and subsequently of the West African Central Bank (WACB), a separate ECOWAS/NEPAD Ministry would be required to support the activities of these institutions for the benefit of the country," he said.
Prof. Asante said with Ghana as a strong advocate of West African Regionalism, there was a need to have such a separate ministry not only to effectively implement NEPAD, but also to respond effectively to the challenges of the new ECOWAS Commission, of which Ghana's own Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas was President.
He noted that "whiles ECOWAS leadership must be congratulated on its commendable transformation of the Secretariat into a Commission to enable the community to play a more effective role in the integration process, there is the need for ECOWAS to have more impact and become more visible in Ghana and the rest of the ECOWAS countries," he said.
Prof. Asante said in that direction, there was the need to build ECOWAS's capacity in the areas of human resource and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enable it to provide development opportunities for individual member States.
"A strong and adequately staffed Policy Analysis and Strategic Division should be established to serve as a 'think-tank' to provide technical and advisory support in policy formulation, if ECOWAS is to effectively and efficiently implement its mandate and achieve its objectives to benefit member States," he said.
Prof. Asante also recommended the establishment of major multinational industrial projects that would encourage integrated production activities to save member States from over-dependence on imports.
He noted that whereas in Europe and Latin America, there were regional centres for the study of regionalism, Africa and West Africa for that matter had no such centre in spite of all the professed efforts at Pan-Africanism.
"There is a need for an African Centre for the Study of Regionalism to provide organised and institutionalised support at policy, technical and intellectual levels to African governments, regional economic communities, private sector organisations, civil society groups and other parties involved in furthering regionalism in Africa," he said.