Mr Kwaku Ampratwum Sarpong, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to address conflicts and challenges impeding trade integration.
He said although the bloc had emerged as one of the most vibrant in the African Sub-region, it fell behind in the realization of trade integration and the elimination of conflicts.
The Deputy Minister was addressing the opening of a regional sensitization workshop on the ECOWAS protocols in Ho on Thursday.
He said member states must endeavour to pursue the implementation of the protocols and policies toward the maintenance of peace and security.
“ECOWAS, being better integrated than other Regional Economic Communities in Africa, does not imply that it has achieved total peace nor has the best infrastructure in the Sub-region,” he said.
“Rather this means that despite other challenges, the ECOWAS Member States continuously strive to ensure the implementation, at the national level, of the various community protocols, programmes, and policies needed to connect the citizenry while trading in the Sub-region.”
Mr. Sarpong said member states should exploit comparative advantages in integrating their economies towards more efficient use of resources.
He called on participants to discuss security instability within the bloc because regional integration was inextricably woven into the fabric of peace and security rather than just an economic issue.
“Being fully aware that economic development cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and stability, conflict in our backyard should concern us and motivate us not only to find solutions but also to prevent its spread,” the Deputy Minister said.
It was attended by security services, state actors, civil society groups, and religious and traditional leaders.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, the Volta Regional Minister, shared concerns over the pace of development of the regional bloc and expressed the hope that the workshop and similar initiatives would help attain the integration objectives.