PRESIDENT/Chief Executive Offcer, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has called on the elimination of trade barriers among West African nations, to promote economic growth in the region.
Dangote, in his speech at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI’s stakeholders’ forum on “Breaking Trade Barriers in the West African Sub-region,” said the establishment of ECOWAS treaty in 1975, was to promote economic co-operation and integration among the 16 founding nations.
He noted that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Treaty, contained provisions that were aimed at developing and promoting trade within the the West African sub-region, adding that many years after, the objectives of establishing the regional body have yet to attain its fulfillment.
The Dangote boss said that ECOWAS seemed to have achieved much more objective in areas of Immigration, Regional peace keeping, Security, and Conflict Management than in promoting economic integration, which was its core mandate.
“In setting up ECOWAS, the founding fathers had the vision of an organisation that would in line with its mission of promoting economic integration in all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture,” Dangote said.
He pinpointed the elimination of trade barriers in West Africa as the key to economic growth of the sub-region, explaining that governments of the sub-region needed to tackle barriers, such as excessive documentation and cumbersome procedures at the ports, checkpoints, and borders to ensure free movemment of goods and services in the sub-region.
Dangote, however commended the the step taken so far by the ECOWAS Commission and the World Bank under the West African Transport and Trade Facilitation programme and the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Trade Facilitation programme, saying that these initiatives would facilitate cross-border trade and movements to harmonise documentation, to minimise cumbersome procedures and to reduce transport cost, business cost and transaction costs.
He said the contracts for the construction of three border posts, which were awarded early this year by ECOWAS Commission, but were being financed by the European Union under their 9th European Development Fund, EDF, would also add major impact to trade facilitation in the sub-region.
The border posts are located at Seme/Krate (Nigeria/benin), Noepe (Ghana/Togo), and Mallanville (Niger/Benin).