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Build critical mass of experts to push economic integration agenda – BoG Governor

By
Belinda Ayamgha/Rose Darko Kwakye

Accra, June 28, GNA – Dr
Ernest Kwamina Yedu Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, says a monetary
Union is a critical component of regional integration and urged central banks
and finance officials across West Africa to build a critical mass of experts in
this area.

He said building a
critical mass of experts was needed to enable the sub-region pick up its pace
in its regional integration efforts.

He made the statements
in a speech delivered on his behalf by Ms. Catherine Ashley, Advisor to the Bank
of Ghana, at the opening of a regional course on financial and economic issues
in regional integration in Accra on Wednesday.

The training was
organised by the West African Institution for Financial and Economic Management
(WAIFEM) in collaboration and with funding from the African Capacity Building
Foundation (ACBF).

Dr Addison said in
order to remain relevant in the global environment; the African continent must
embrace regional economic integration in Africa, and to promote competitive and
sustainable economic growth and development.

He noted that
progressive integration followed successive stages; including the establishment
of a free trade area, a custom union, and a common a market, which them mature
into an economic and monetary union and finally, a political union.

African countries in
recent years, have taken giant steps towards regional and economic integration,
with the establishment of regional blocs like the East Africa Community,
Economic Community of Central African States, ECOWAS, COMESA, and SADC among
others, in a bid to harmonise and harness Africa’s economic potential.

A major challenge to
economic integration, he said, was the relinquishment of nationalistic controls
exercised by a sovereign economy but stressed that gains of economic
integration from both internal and external economies of scale as well as
increased competition and growth, far outweighed the loss of sovereignty.

Dr Addison bemoaned
the lagging behind of Anglo West Africa in establishing a monetary union with a
single currency as seen in francophone West African countries with the CFA
zone, despite numerous efforts.

“There have been
several challenges ranging from lack of political commitment to more
substantial issues of meeting the convergence criteria and harmonisation of
policies and regulatory frameworks, which all are fundamental to successful
integration,” he stated

He noted that the
pending issues that will cement the already existing close ties and firm up the
regional integration process across West Africa include; harmonisation of
monetary policy frameworks and establishment of a common currency, adoption of
the principles of a free trading bloc among member states, linkage of
electronic payment systems and linkage of financial markets across the
sub-regions.

Professor Akpan H.
Ekpo, Director General for West African Institution for Financial and Economic
Management (WAIFEM), said the course was to broaden participants’ understanding
of various aspects of economic, monetary and financial integration.

Themes to be discussed
during the one-week course include an overview of financial and economic
integration with case studies from other regions, requirements for economic and
monetary integration, the convergence process in the sub-region, trade,
financial and monetary integration, political economy aspects of integration
and challenges of integration of capital markets among others.

He noted that the
challenging themes selected for the group work exercise will give participants
the opportunity to explore the issues, particularly those which have been
illusive over the years.

The course will be
facilitated by a team of experts and practitioners from the region, as well as
WAIFEM faculty.

GNA

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