Friday, March 23, 2007.
Create Ministry for NEPAD
Story: MUSAH YAHAYA JAAFARU
A DISTINGUISHED academic, Prof. S.K.B. Asante, has advocated the separation of the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since the merger of the two ministries has not helped Ghana to integrate NEPAD principle, priorities and strategies into the national development process.
He stressed that the merger did not demonstrate the government’s commitment to implement the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agenda and promote regionalism and Pan-Africanism.
Prof. Asante, who is a Member of the Governing Council of the National African Peer Review Mechanism (NAPRM), was delivering a lecture on, “Ghana : Opportunities and Challenges of Pan-Africanism and Regionalism Today”, at the last in the series of the 40th J.B. Danquah Memorial Lectures organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GASS) in Accra on Wednesday.
The GAAS instituted the lectures in 1968 in memory of Dr. J.B. Danquah, a foundation member of the academy, lawyer, statesman, philosopher, scholar, journalist, novelist, and dramatist and described as the Doyen of Gold Coast Politics.
The lectures, which focus on topical national issues in the areas of economy, politics, culture, chieftaincy, democracy, science, education, among others, are delivered by fellows of the GAAS and other Ghanaian scholars.
Prof. Asante, whose one-and-a-half-hour long lecture was greeted with a standing ovation, said as a result of the merger of the two ministries, the government was unable to create a NEPAD Desk in each relevant ministry to ensure broad-based technical integration of all NEPAD priorities.
He said there was the need to establish national NEPAD steering committees, with representation from civil society, labour unions and business, to popularize the NEPAD document.
“With Ghana as host of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) and subsequently the West African Central Bank, a separate ECOWAS/NEPAD Ministry would be required to backstop the activities of these institutions for the benefit of the country”. Prof. Asante said.
He stressed that Ghana, as a strong advocate of West African regionalism, would need such a separate ministry to implement the NEPAD agenda and respond effectively to the challenges of the new ECOWAS Commission, which has a Ghanaian, Dr. Ibn Chambas, as its President.
He said qualified individuals should be engaged and given incentives to address specific needs of the ministry.
Prof. Asante said despite Ghana’s commitment to regionalism and Pan-Africanism, there had been no essential well-structured and competent institutions and managerial skills for the implementation of the various ECOWAS protocols and regulations.
According to him, for many years the country allocated the responsibilities of Pan-Africanism at the regional level to the low level EU-ACP-ECOWAS Secretariat located at the Ministry of Finance, which was replaced in May 2003 by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Regional Co-operation.
He said none of the Regional Co-operation structures, which he described as glorified liaison offices of ECOWAS, was adequately staffed and resourced for its task.
“The staffing, authority level, background and qualification of personnel tended to be below what was required to make them effective. All this has contributed to the inability of the country to benefit from the ECOWAS integration process or capitalize on the opportunities provided by ECOWAS”, he stressed.
Prof. Asante, who is a fellow of the GAAS said there were opportunities to be derived from ECOWAS market expansion, integration of production structures, integration of physical infrastructure and monetary and fiscal co-operation, as envisaged in the West African Monetary Zone.
wever, he said, so far Ghana’s achievements from the ECOWAS integration process “leave much to be desired”.
He said the effective implementation of the ECOWAS trade liberalization scheme would create an enlarged market and expand trade between Ghana and its ECOWAS partners, promote investment and industrialization.
It would also encourage the expansion of the activities of the Ghana Tourist Board, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, the Ghana Free Zone Board and the Ghana Gateway Programme, Prof. Asante said.
The Vice-President in charge of Arts of GAAS, Prof. L.I. Boadi, who chaired the function, asked African Heads of State to openly condemn the abuse of human rights being perpetrated by some of their colleague Heads of State on the continent.
He said such undemocratic attitudes would discourage Africans in the Diaspora from visiting Africa.
The President of GAAS, Dr. Leticia Eva Obeng, extolled the significance of the J.B. Danquah Memorial Lectures Series, saying they served as a forum for national thought sand debate on pressing national issues and were of direct relevance to Ghanaians.
Daily Graphic - Friday, March 23, 2007. Page: 3