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Strengthening ECOWAS, AU key to prosperity – President

Accra, Aug. 1, GNA – President Nana Addo
Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday expressed the need for Africa to prioritise the
pursuit of regional integration to enable it deliver on its potential growth
prospects.

He said with West Africa set to reach 500
million  and Africa two billion people in
20 years, the process of regional integration should be in the interest of all
Africans and must not stall.

President Akufo-Addo said this when he
delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of Course 25 participants
of Nigeria’s National Defence College, in Abuja, Nigeria.

He said West Africa and Africa’s projected
populations mean that “genuine regional and continental markets in Africa
should be in our mutual economic interests, for these markets will present
immense opportunities to bring prosperity to the peoples in our region and
continent with hard work, creativity and enterprise”.

The President said what ought to engage
Ghanaians, Nigerians and all the peoples and governments in the region, was to
consolidate the processes of structural reforms of national economies in order
to have functioning, common regional and continental markets.

“We cannot persist with economic structures
that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials, if we are to
bring prosperity to the masses of our peoples,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo noted that the continent
had not done much in the pursuit of integration, saying: “ We have not done
much as we should have in liberalising and promoting trade amongst member
countries.”

He said he had made it clear on a number of
occasions, on several platforms in the countries he had visited in the region
and on the continent that “It is extremely important for the welfare of the 1.2
billion people of the continent that we, the leaders, demonstrate strong
political will to make the project of integration, at the regional and
continental levels, economic and political successes, and make them realities
in the lives of our peoples”.

“For my part, I am willing to do whatever I
can to strengthen the ECOWAS and AU communities,” the President said.

The President stressed that Ghana and Nigeria
stood to benefit in far better ways, if both countries implementation fully
ECOWAS and AU Treaties on trade, free movement of goods and persons, customs,
taxation, statistics, money and payments.

“It surely makes more sense for Nigeria to
import its salt from Ghana than from Brazil. When we think of Africa before our
own countries, we are not just being pan-Africanists, we are being true
nationalists because what makes Africa better will make each of our countries
better and more prosperous,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo said West Africa and
Africa cannot make the bold transformative changes they need to make without
visionary political leadership.

“We need leadership that is focused on the
region and continent, and not on individual countries. The European Union took
off because the political leadership of France and Germany decided to make it
work. Once the political will is evident, we can then work together to make out
of ECOWAS and the AU true regional and continental markets,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo was of the view that
Nigeria must provide the political leadership and passion to translate the
ECOWAS and AU dreams into reality.

“You have the numbers, you have the economic
muscle and, dare I say it, you owe it to the region and continent,” he said.

GNA

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