President Nana Akufo-Addo is advocating a 24-hour opening of the Ghana and Togo borders in a bid which he said will boost trade and tourism between the countries.
He said the opening of the borders will give true meaning to the ECOWAS Protocols on Free Movement of Goods and Persons and will spur on progress and prosperity for both nationals.
The President said it will ensure that the peoples of the two nations reap the economic benefits thereof.
He made this known on Wednesday when he delivered a brief speech at a State dinner held in his honour by the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé.
With President Akufo-Addo determined to aide in the strengthening of the ECOWAS community, he noted that it is extremely important for the welfare of the 350 million people living in West Africa, that its leaders show strong political will to make ECOWAS an economic and political success, and to make the integration real.
“I am fully committed, and I know President Faure Gnassingbé is too. With West Africa’s population set to reach some 500 million people in 20 years time, there are immense opportunities to bring prosperity to our region with enterprise and creativity.
“The time for West African integration is now. Ghana and Togo should take the lead in converting ECOWAS into a true regional market, and, indeed, in helping to facilitate the wider efforts at continental integration and unity,” he added.
A functioning, common regional market in ECOWAS, in President Akufo-Addo’s view, has to be a very fundamental objective of all of the peoples and governments in ECOWAS, and it is for this reason that “I am very much for the 24-hour opening of the borders between our two countries. This will boost trade, tourism, and, then can we reap the economic benefits.”
It was the hope of President Akufo-Addo that during his and the term in office of President Faure Gnassingbé, Ghana and Togo will continually search for ways to co-operate and harness fully the benefits of their shared resources.
“The resources of the Volta Basin, the exploitation of our mutual iron ore deposits, the rapid construction of dams to extend the supply of electricity to the northern parts of our countries, the joint respect of our maritime borders, the completion of the construction of water treatment plants to deliver potable water, as well as the sharing of knowledge and information, will create jobs and wealth for our two peoples,” he said.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo told his Togolese counterpart that “it is not right that the last meeting of the Permanent Joint Commission of our countries was held in 2009, some 8 years ago.
“It would give me great pleasure to welcome your team to Accra for the next Joint Commission meeting, hopefully in July. We must hasten the process of the attainment of our shared objectives.”
New Generation of African Leaders
President Akufo-Addo praised the Togolese President for promoting a spirit of national reconciliation amongst the Togolese people, a reference to the presence of the erstwhile leader of the Togolese opposition, Gilchrist Olympio, who was also present at the State dinner.
“They have both exhibited considerable courage in bringing the process this far. They have demonstrated that the forward movement of this country is their only and utmost concern. Long may they continue on this path,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo noted that “Africa is breeding a new generation of leaders”, adding that “this generation of African leaders must not fail the long-suffering African masses. They must help bring dignity and prosperity to our continent and its peoples.”
The new generation of leaders emerging on the continent, he noted, are committed to governing their peoples according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability, and are looking past commodities to position their countries in the global marketplace.
He added that this new breed of African leaders are determined to free their peoples from a mindset of dependence, aid, charity and hand-outs; are bent on mobilizing Africa’s own immeasurable resources to resolve Africa’s problems; and recognise the connectedness of their peoples and economies to those of their neighbours.