ECOWAS Youth and Citizens League summit ends
The first ever Peoples' Summit for ECOWAS Youth and Citizens League (EYCL), a non-governmental and non-partisan voluntary association of West African Youth and citizens to know economic values of West African States was held in Accra on Thursday with a call on Africans to develop a strategy to solve their own problems.
Colonel John Sharpe (Rtd), the National Patron of EYCL, who made the call said: "The solution to Africa's problem need not to be imported but should be designed by the Africans themselves."
He said selfishness, dishonesty, lack of productivity, indiscipline and misuse of political power were some of Africa's diseases and called on the leaders to develop the strong will to overcome them to give relief to their citizens.
He said the League had no political ambition but it had a vision, which it would pursue vigorously to ensure that by the next five years, all borders in West Africa would be opened and people and goods would freely move across them.
The Reverend Joshua Kingly Boson, Founder and President of the EYCL, said the League had a voluntary auxiliary contingent of professionals and craftsmen at stand by to provide civilian refugee support, offer emergency relief service and give direct assistance to the reconstruction of any member state of the community affected by natural disaster, civil wars or ethnic conflicts.
He announced that from January next year, the League would start the registration and computation of all West African citizens leaving in Ghana to enable Embassies to know the number of their citizens in the country for proper monitoring.
Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Economic Planning and Regional Co-operation, said in spite of the modest achievements of ECOWAS since its inception, it still remained a divided entity in terms of language.
"While we continued to divide ourselves, the Europeans, who originated our divisive labels have been uniting and integrating into an European Union. After 27 years of establishing ECOWAS we should by now be speaking with one voice of integration", Dr Nduom said in a speech read for him.
He said: "If we are to be taken seriously, we must aim to produce a different story in 10 years time. We must begin today and move away from all divisive tendencies and must resolve to move ECOWAS forward with full commitment to establishing a viable ECOWAS that would be a major force for progress and development of our Sub-Region."
Mr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Trade and Industry, in a speech read for him, said various policy implementation bottlenecks and non-co-operative attitude of some ECOWAS member states had deprived Ghanaians of the benefits of the ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme.
He mentioned difficulties in obtaining compensation for loss of revenue in granting the zero duty rate, existence of parallel UEMOA Trade Liberalisation and compensation scheme, with different rules and origins and the harassment of traders at the borders as the three major problems impeding implementation of the scheme.
He urged Ghanaian businessmen to shift from importation to exportation of Ghanaian products to take advantage of the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF).
Dr Kwaku Twum-Baah, Acting Government Statistician, speaking on "Computerisation of West African Citizens - Why the Need", said such data might be useful for ongoing or planned social and economic development projects.
The EYCL would organise a non-governmental Parliament in March 2003, to formulate plans for the West African Paramount Chiefs' Parliament for implementation.