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10.11.2003 Business & Finance

ECOWAS states can't double per capita income

Listen to article 30 years if..- Chambas Accra, Nov. 10, GNA- It would be difficult for ECOWAS member countries to double their per capita incomes in the next 30 years given the current low average growth rate with its attendant numerous trade and investments barriers in the region.

Dr Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS said on Monday that "The current growth rate of four per cent is not good enough, because if we have about three per cent being the population growth rate, it means that even in a good year where we achieve a growth rate of five per cent, only a net growth rate of two per cent would be attained.

"This implies that statistically, at that rate countries can only double their growth rate and per capita income in 30 years and if Ghana's per capita income is around 350 dollars then in 30 years she can only achieve 700 dollars".

Dr Chambas said this at the opening of a three-day workshop in Accra on the validation of a Regional Road Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme.

The workshop is aimed at facilitating and promoting the free movement of goods and services within the sub-region through the reduction of transport cost and enhancement of competitiveness. Dr Chambas said a lot of regional traders are engaging in genuine and legitimate trade activities, however, most of the security barriers and road check points are there to check the criminal activities.

"But my point is that the criminal element are a few minority, which should not frustrate the entire objective of the ECOWAS. Yes we must cooperate more at the security level, but the criminal element should not justify the excessive blockages in the region because they do not allow free flow of liberalized trade in the region", the ECOWAS Executive Secretary said.

He noted that the intra trade among countries was as low as 12 per cent and said if the region could increase it to about 20 per cent, more income generating activities for its citizens would result in infrastructure development, increased employment and more savings and investment.

"We must create the infrastructure that is crucial for the facilitation of economic development through the removal of the impediments, the obstacles, road blocks as well as the all kinds of documentation problems," he said.

Dr Richard Anane, Roads and Transport Minister said, "The efforts being made by our various governments to improve upon transportation infrastructure, would elude us as long as there exist different trade and economic practices which hamper the smooth movement of people and goods within the region.

He enumerated a number of policies and implementation measures that Ghana has initiated such as collaboration with Burkina Faso and Mali to develop their corridors in line with the ECOWAS Interstate protocol. He said: "These countries have jointly negotiated with the African Development Bank (ADB) for the granting of 64.5 units of account amounting to 76.8 million dollars to finance road infrastructure and facilitation of road related activities in the domains".

Dr Anane said a similar initiative would soon be finalized with Niger for implementation.

He said the existing road infrastructure was failing at an accelerated rate from the unanticipated cargo transit and axle load differentials, with their related extra strain on our sea ports, to accommodate and render the needed services to our land-lock compatriots.

The workshop attended by development partners such as the European Union (EU), seeks to establish a Joint Border Control Posts, identification and analysis of abnormal practices that impede the free flow of traffic and the implementation of inter-state transit convention to harmonise customs transit procedures.

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