09.03.2015 Feature Article

Talking Points Around ECOWAS@40

Who Should Be The Beneficiaries Of ECOWAS Integration?
Talking Points Around ECOWAS40
09.03.2015 LISTEN

In the second part of our “Talking Points around ECOWAS@40”, we want to use the 35th edition of “Africa in Focus” to examine who the beneficiaries of ECOWAS ought to be.

The Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration has finally launched the “ECOWAS@40” celebrations in what some of us believe to be a rather lukewarm manner. ECOWAS integration, in AIF's view, is too important a milestone in the sub-region's narrative of development for it to deserve such little attention, especially at a time when President Mahama is ECOWAS Chair.

For an administration that has aligned itself with the youth, it beggars belief that in all the ECOWAS meetings, the youth have yet to be invited to sit as observers at any of the ECOWAS meetings that have been held in Ghana. One can only hope that in the spirit of the 2009-call by East African youth to have a seat at the East African Community Parliament (EALA), West African youth will follow same and get active on a similar call. It is for this reason we will speak to the Public & Media Relations Officer of the Ghana Youth Integrity Initiative to speak to us what ECOWAS can do better—specifically under Mahama's tenure as ECOWAS Chair and—generally as a well-respected regional economic community with experience in peace and security to transcend that imperative and ensure ECOWAS properly-benefits future generations.

Also on the line will be George Ofori, President of GUTA, who is well-known for what some may call altercations between GUTA and its Nigerian counterpart in the Ashanti capital Kumasi. Although ECOWAS protocols mean that Nigerians are able to work in Ghana, and therefore his attempts to get Nigerian traders to leave the retail sector were illegal under the ECOWAS treaty, the revision of the GIPC law in July 2013 (revising minimum capital of foreigners wishing to do business in Ghana from US$300,000 to US$1m either in cash or goods) means that Ghanaians are protected from an influx of foreigners in the retail sector – including ECOWAS Community Citizens.

Finally, we will speak to Appiah Adoamoko to offer us key insights into consumer-led West African integration, and why ECOWAS citizens need to start making greater demands as consumers of an emerging West African Common Market.

Join us if you can at 1pm on 10 March, 2015.
Guiding questions:
Is there anything to benefit at all from West African integration under ECOWAS?

Is there sufficient attention paid to West African consumers?

Given that the youth represent 60 percent of the continent's demographic, what does ECOWAS need to do to better-integrate youth views in the way East African Community does with Youth observers?

How do we reconcile protecting ECOWAS Community Citizens from influx of foreigners with ECOWAS free movement protocols when our national investment laws make no distinction between ECOWAS Community Citizens and “foreigners”?

Guests in the studio:
Ø Appiah Adoamoko, Coordinator, CUTS-Accra
Ø Aziz Gomda, Public & Media Relations Officer, Ghana Youth Integrity Initiative

On the line:
· Kobby Blay, EbolaWatch @13h30
· George Ofori, Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) @14h10