President concludes third phase of ECOWAS tour

BY: Daily Graphic
President Mahamadou Issoufou welcoming President Akufo-Addo to the presidential palace
President Mahamadou Issoufou welcoming President Akufo-Addo to the presidential palace

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Tuesday ended the third phase of his tour of ECOWAS countries with a day’s working visit to the Republic of Niger.

At a meeting with the Nigerien President, Mr Issoufou Mahamadou, the two leaders pledged to strengthen the ties of co-operation that existed between their countries.

They also discussed a Permanent Joint Commission on Co-operation to serve as the legal framework to address their trade and investment concerns.

Low trade volumes

Expressing concern over the low volumes of trade between the two countries, President Akufo-Addo stressed the critical importance the regional market of ECOWAS represented to the development of West Africa, whose population is set to hit 500 million in 20 years.

To that end, he urged his Nigerien counterpart to help in the advocacy for the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) which was expected to eliminate the impediments and challenges associated with the free movement of goods, persons and services within the sub-region.

With ECOWAS having assigned to Ghana and Niger the task of seeing to the introduction of a common currency in West Africa, the ECO, President Akufo-Addo noted that the different currencies in the region had become an impediment to free trade, hence the need to expedite action on the introduction of the single currency.

Pursue good policies

Additionally, he noted that a common agricultural policy, the West African Power Pool, a common tariff regime, among other initiatives, were examples of good policies which should be put into effect in West Africa “and just not remain on the books of ECOWAS”.

With the modernisation and diversification of Ghana’s agriculture being one of the priorities of the current administration, President Akufo-Addo proposed the strengthening of co-operation between Ghana and Niger in the area of agriculture, especially as 40 per cent of Niger’s gross domestic product (GDP) was from agriculture.

The President further indicated Ghana’s preparedness to share with Niger Ghana’s experience gained in the management of its oil and gas resources, since its discovery in 2007, as well as the measures taken to ensure the prudent and effective use of proceeds from the resources.

“Ghana is well placed to share with Niger the dos and don’ts in the effective management of oil and gas revenues,” he stated.

Exploit resources

While touching on the co-ordination of the mutual exploitation of the resources of the two countries, such as iron ore, gold and petroleum, the President noted that those must be exploited for the benefit of the people of the respective countries and urged the addition of value to those resources to create jobs and wealth.

On the fight against terrorism, he assured President Issoufou that “in Nana Akufo-Addo and in his government, the people of Niger have a strong and steadfast friend”. 

He expressed the appreciation of the people of West Africa for “the sacrifices the Nigerien people, who are in the frontline of the fight against terrorism, are making to guarantee the peace and security not just of their own country but the region as a whole”.

On that score, President Akufo-Addo reiterated Ghana’s commitment to stand beside Niger in that fight, adding: “Whatever, within our modest means, we can do to promote the success of that struggle, you can count on us.”