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STAKEHOLDERS IN REGIONAL INTEGRATION HOLD POLICY DIALOGUE

This year’s Policy Dialogue by the Regional Integration Issues Forum (RIIF) has taken place in Accra.

 

The Policy Dialogue, dubbed: The Diplomatic Service as a Tool for Promoting African Regional Integration and National Development, aimed to increase awareness and boost confidence in diplomacy as a tool in making regional integration feasible for national development.

 

The Dialogue, organized by the Centre for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MoFARI), facilitated the identification and discussion of key issues regarding the importance and implementation of regional integration in Africa, and also outline the prospects of major stakeholders to achieve their intended goals in the nearest future.

 

CRIA seeks to empower regional and national policy makers, productive sector groups, citizens and other stakeholders to make well-informed policy choices for inclusive implementation of national and sub-regional development programmes in Africa.

 

Present at the forum were diplomatic representations from countries all over the African continent.

 

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, Minister for Planning, underscored the need for African countries to integrate their economies, markets and societies, open up untapped regional opportunities and unleash continental synergies in a bid to resolve nagging national challenges.

 

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said there was the need to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of persons and investments, as well as resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping membership of regional economic communities.

 

He noted that it was not out of place to suggest that the regional integration landscape across Africa, had benefited immensely from the work of Diplomatic Services across the continent, for which reason the vision for Africa in respect of regional integration, required the full support of the respective Diplomatic Services, using economic diplomacy as the tool of choice in the quest to integrate African countries.

 

In his remarks, Prof. S.K.B. Asante, Executive Director, CRIA, called for full contribution of citizens on the continental and sub-regional integration process for rapid economic growth.

 

Prof. Asante explained the idea of regional integration had not been identified as fundamental to economic growth and, therefore, not decentralized enough to make the ordinary Ghanaian understand its importance and benefits.

 

He, therefore, stressed the need for mechanisms that promoted awareness creation, knowledge-building and consensus-building on regional integration policy issues, adding that regional integration and national agenda ought to be seen in one accord to promote development.

 

Prof. Asante said without well-informed stakeholders, particularly those in the productive sector, business community and civil society actors on regional issues, member states of sub-regional groupings would have difficulty moving to more advanced levels of national and regional development. 

 

“There is inadequate participation of key actors such as civil society, private sector or the business community and the various development partners in the integration process. The conversation is always left at the top without getting to the grassroots. So how will the development drive be materialized” he queried. 

 

He noted that it was alarming that issues pertaining to regional integration were not captured during the presentation of national addresses on states and budgets which, he said, should not be the case.

 

Prof. Asante, however, expressed confidence that Ghana would continue to provide leadership and champion the cause of continental and sub-regional integration agenda.

 

Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq. & Stephen Nii Awuley Ashong