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Africa regional trade director visits Gambia to deepen regional integration

Jan 25, 2016, 10:03 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Dr Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, Director of Africa Center for Trade, Regional Integration and Development (ENDA ACID) based in Dakar, Senegal, accompanied by three officials, Friday ended a three-day visit to their counterpart civil society organisations and private sector in The Gambia.

The visit was to meet all the actors and see how to strengthen the regional integration process on free movement of people and goods in the three ECOWAS countries namely, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia.

The meeting held at TANGO office on Wednesday was attended by civil society organisations, customs representatives, and representatives from the Ministry of Trade, Worldview The Gambia, and TANGO officials among others.

During the consultative meeting, many concerns were raised regarding obstacles faced by ECOWAS citizens in member-states’ borders, and recommendations were also made in strengthening the integration process in our sub-region.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Dr Cheikh Tidiane Dieye said the mission of ENDA ACID is geared towards promoting policy dialogue and consultation among stakeholders on policy development.

It is also to contribute to stakeholders capacity-building for the development and implementation of integration and development policies serving the people, building strategic alliances and strengthening regional and international networking, generating and sharing knowledge on African realities and proposing solutions to the specific problems of Africa, he said.

“The objective of the project is to strengthen regional integration with free movement of people and goods in order to facilitate trade among ourselves, and also to sensitise the community on ECOWAS citizenship to make sure that there are proper regional people at the politics level,” he added.

“Our heads of state should help our people to strengthen that process in the sub-region. We know that regional integration by opening the borders is something in which every citizen should participate in the process of moving that agenda forward for better economies for our countries,” Dr Tidiane Dieye stated.

Dr Dieye said their visit to their Gambian partners was because they are establishing a kind of multi-stakeholder coalition on regional integration and free movement of people and goods.

The aim is to ensure that the civil society organisations, the private sector, customs authority, chambers of commerce in the three countries form a network that would help the ECOWAS citizen to move freely from Banjul to Bissau without any hindrance, he added.

According to Dr Tidiane, the heads of state of ECOWAS have said they want to move from an ‘ECOWAS of states to ECOWAS of people’, adding that they felt the civil society have a big role to play in complementing that mission of the heads of state to ensure the mission becomes a reality in the sub-region.

“We should open borders and remove all obstacles to make trade work for people,” he said, adding that they are calling on heads of state to help to reinforce the process of integration.

He commended President Yahya Jammeh for being in the forefront of promoting regional integration in the sub-region.

“We are very happy to come to The Gambia and visit our partners,discuss with them for the strengthening of regional integration and carve the way forward in laying more future plans to ensure that the civil society participate fully in the sensitisation process,” he said.