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15.11.2005 General News

Journalists schooled on ECOWAS regional integration

By GNA
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Accra, Nov 15, GNA - The Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD on Tuesday organised a day's capacity building workshop for media personnel to equip them to propagate West Africa Sub-Regional integration agenda.

Experts from the Energy Sector; Association of Ghana Industries (AGI); ECOWAS Parliament; Ghana Immigration Service and the West African Monetary Zone Office took the more than 50 journalists through plans for the expansion of the West Africa's energy sources and functions of the Parliament of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Other topics were cross-border trade and access to markets within the Sub-Region, the operations of the Monetary Zone Secretariat, the ECOWAS Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons Goods and the right of establishment and residence.

Opening the workshop, which was on the theme: "Moving the ECOWAS Integration Forward," Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Sector Minister, expressed concern about information gap and poor publicity with respect to issues of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD. He, therefore, appealed to media practitioners to educate the public on issues of regional integration to enhance the efforts of the Government.

Dr Apraku said issues of integration of the Sub-Region had been challenged, as the region had been noted for conflict resolution, instead of ensuring economic union that would lead to economic growth. "The Ministry in order to deal with the challenges has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deal with the problems and what is needed now is the support of all to achieve the aim."

The Minister said although the Ghanaian industry was weak, its products were competitive and expressed the hope that the country would continue to maximise its products as the third largest economy within the Sub-Region.

He expressed the hope that the workshop would provide the media with the requisite information in order to be champions of ECOWAS integration.

Mr Moses Gyamfi, Assistant Director of Immigration Service, who spoke on ECOWAS Protocol, the Right of Establishment and Residence and the Free Movement of Persons and Goods, called on the Government and other stakeholders to support the Service to carry out its duties. He said acts such as the use of unapproved routes without travel documents, the continuous use of national identity cards for travel purposes instead of the approved passports and the general insecurity situation within the Sub-Region were challenges to the Service. "Refugee movement, international terrorism, frequent unannounced closed borders, overstay of permits and poor security arrangements at various borders are all making our work difficult."

Mr Gyamfi appealed to all border agencies to collaborate in sensitising the people in line with best practices and urged the media to learn the basic texts of the Protocol in order to educate the public. Mr Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Majority Chief Whip and a Member of ECOWAS Parliament, underscored the need for Parliament to engage civil society in decision-making in order to know the prime concerns of the people. 15 Nov. 05

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