Kumasi, Aug 26, GNA- Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Integration and NEPAD, has asked people in the ECOWAS sub-region to have trust and confidence to come closer for the realisation of the sub-regional integration.
He said ineffective human touch among the people in the sub-region had been the missing link in all efforts to push the integration forward.
Dr Apraku made the call at the opening of the first-ever Ghanaian-Ivorian Week celebration (SIGHAN) 2004 in Kumasi on Thursday. It formed part of the activities to consolidate the sister-city relationship, between the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and the Municipality of Treichville in Cote d'Ivoire.
The occasion was also used, to open a trade fair and exhibition of Ghanaian and Ivorian products by businessmen from Kumasi and Cote d'Ivoire.
Dr Apraku stated that the success of sub-regional integration could not be achieved on the number of protocols that would be signed by member states, but rather the ability to bring the people together to have trust and confidence in each other to promote understanding among them and help tackle common problems such as diseases, hunger, poverty and illiteracy.
He said there were a lot to be done to improve the lots of the people in the two countries, adding that, a lot of work had been done to remove the artificial barriers that impeded the smooth crossing of borders.
Dr Apraku said the idea of sister-city relationship would serve as an impetus to move the sub-regional integration process forward and commended the KMA for the initiative.
He, however, said the two countries could not do anything without peace and stability and said the government of Ghana would do everything possible to restore peace and stability in Cote d'Ivoire.
Mr Kwadwo Afram Asiedu, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives (PSI), regretted that in spite of the ECOWAS protocol that seeks to promote trade to raise the living conditions of the people, ECOWAS states still remained less than 12 per cent by volume and value of international trade.
He said language barrier should not be allowed to constitute a stumbling block to the efforts of the two cities to forge ahead to build stronger relationship to promote trade among their people.
Mr Maxwell Kofi Jumah, KMA Chief Executive, said closer collaboration between Kumasi and Treichville was long overdue. He said the sister-city relationship would not only bring the people together but would promote trade and investment among the people in the two cities.
Mr Francois Amichia, Mayor of Treichville, said the relationship would serve as a platform to promote effective collaboration in socio-economic sectors and promote development in the two cities. He said the two cities had unique opportunities that could be harnessed to benefit the people.