By Stanley Senya
Accra, March 8, GNA – Ms Fatou Ndiaye, Chief of Mission for International Organization For Migration (IOM) for Ghana, Togo and Benin has called on West African countries to fast-track the ratification of the African Union (AU) Free Movement of Persons protocol to ensure the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
She made the call at a workshop on the theme: “Regional Consultation on Migration, Mobility and Trade: Capitalizing on Small-scale cross-border trade for sustainable community development in West Africa,” in Accra.
She said the ratification would provide a framework to transform borders into catalyst for growth, socio-economic and political integration of the continent.
Hence, strengthening different aspects of cross-border collaboration should be approached as a support mechanism for the implementation of the AFCFTA.
She said as Africa was making headways towards a Continental Free Trade Area, it is important to recognise the role of human mobility in achieving that overarching goal.
“Small-scale cross-border trade will contribute greatly to the livelihoods of border communities with tangible sustainable development outcomes.”
“It would create income and employment to young people, ensure economic empowerment of women who constitute a majority in the sector and also contribute to regional food security,” she said.
Mr Kofi Addo, Chief Commercial Officer and also Head of One-District-One-Factory, in a speech on behalf of Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, Caretaker Minister for Trade and Industry, said the Government had demonstrated the willingness to address challenges facing small-scale cross-border trade.
That, notwithstanding, there is a vast challenge with cross border trade which can be addressed if there is free movement of people.
“Movement of goods and services are done by people, therefore we must allow people to move freely among member states without any payments to border officials.”
However, he said, there was the need to formalise small scale traders to ensure appropriate support from the government to help sustain development.
“The ministry has trained more than 700 people to understand the economic benefits, to help support economic activities, not only in the local areas but across the country,” he said.
He said the Ministry was willing to work with IOM to help ensure the smooth running of small-scale cross-border trade to help in economic development.