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15.10.2005 General News

ECOWAS member govts urged to set effective communication channels

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Ho, Oct. 15, GNA - The Minister of Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku on Friday urged member governments of ECOWAS to establish regular and effective channels of communication with their state agencies to ensure smooth implementation of ECOWAS protocols.

He made the call at a workshop for personnel of CEPS, Immigration Service and the Police Service in the Volta Region in Ho on the "ECOWAS Protocols on free movement of persons, goods, services and right of establishments".

Dr Apraku said such regular workshops were vital in informing implementation agencies of member countries on new trends and developments necessary to avoid communication gaps, which could undermine ECOWAS' objectives, such as the prohibition of Ghanaian goods on the Nigerian markets.

He explained that the impression gathered from official government circles in Nigeria was that the decision to prohibit Ghanaian exports to that country emanated from that country's Finance Ministry and not the Executive.

Dr Apraku said, as of now his Ministry has obtained a list of 44 items from Ghana, which could not be sold in Nigeria.

"Practically nothing, that we produce can go to Nigeria". He said under the circumstances, there was no justification for Ghana to attend a trade fair slated for that country, because the condition was that goods from Ghana could not be sold at the fair, which defeats the objectives of a trade fair. Dr Apraku said Nigeria's decision was an extreme response to her frustration with the presence of cheap imported goods into that country.

He said even though Nigeria's action gave Ghana enough room to do the same, yet, the most prudent alternative would be to assist local industries to be competitive against foreign imports. Dr Apraku said actions, such as the one taken by Nigeria had the potential to alienate ECOWAS citizens from identifying themselves with the objectives of the sub-regional body.

That notwithstanding, he said many projects to be undertaken under the aegis of ECOWAS would soon come on stream.

These included the ECOWAS gas pipeline project, the West Africa power pool project, a common industrial policy, a sub-regional railway project towards which the African Development Bank was making available three million dollars for a feasibility project and tariff harmonization to make smuggling unattractive.