Oneness and cooperation the way forward

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
A sub-regional forum on integration in West Africa held a few months ago in Zinginchor, capital of the southern Senegalese region of Casamance, by participants from Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau, as well as ECOWAS officials, dilated on the need to actualize the ECOWAS Protocol on the free movement of people and goods within the context of sub-regional trade.

The importance for such a protocol to be upheld and adhered to need not be over-emphasised, as it is only through regional integration and free movement of people and goods that we as a blocs would realize meaningful growth in trade and business, as well as in the development of our national economies.

But this essential aspect of development in our sub-region is still being difficult to wholeheartedly embrace by the various players within the sub-region.

A case in point is what is presently happening at the border crossing points between Senegal and The Gambia.

Since last week The Gambia and Senegal have closed their borders to each other, preventing commercials vehicles from entering each other’s territory, which does not promote the ECOWAS Protocol of free movement of people and goods.

What is holding or stifling the proper implementation and observance of this beneficial protocol needs to be seriously tackled, by both the public and private sector players in all the ECOWAS member states, for without such an action it will be difficult to realize the good out of the regional integration and free movement of people and goods we are talking about.

“The free movement of goods and people in the sub-region is the sole responsibility of the public sector,” participants at that forum said.

It is also essential to note that it takes conscious effort and strong political will from the governments and leadership of the region for a proper and genuine observance or implementation of the regional integration programme to be seen taking place in the region.

Other nations, regions and blocs such as the European Union (EU), Eastern Africa Community (EAC), and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have been able to register substantial success in their regional integration programmes.

Therefore, West Africa or ECOWAS, formed since 1975, should have done much more than it has done in its existence.

Without regional integration, individual countries in the region would continue to find it very difficult to achieve serious turnaround of their economies; hence integration becomes a necessity and the way forward to rapid growth and development.

“Globalization and free trade do spur economic growth, and they lead to lower prices on many goods.”

Robert Reich