The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Gambo Yusuf Hamza, has said Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) governments must do more to encourage trade within the sub-region.
He said Africa contributes just one percent to global trade, and for the continent to contribute more it has to trade more with itself first before it goes to the global stage.
He bemoaned the persistence of trade barriers in Africa, especially West Africa, where customs restrictions limit the free flow of goods across borders.
“With my two months’ experience here in Ghana, I have complaints from some Nigerian traders about problems they encounter with customs checkpoints along the borders between Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Benin. And then, I also have complaints from Ghanaian traders going to Nigeria from Ghana or coming to Ghana from Nigeria.
“So I think the governments [of ECOWAS] need to do more on these customs restrictions at the border because it is only through this that trade can be promoted within the sub-region.”
The High Commissioner said most of Ghana’s exports go to destinations outside the continent even though there is a huge market within the sub-region with a youthful population.
For instance, he said, Nigeria has a population of over 200m people, with Nigeria and Ghana contributing 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of West Africa.
“When you look at the huge market we have in Nigeria, we cannot continue to neglect it; so I think we should do more about that and boost trade within the sub-region,” he advocated.