Mahama Calls For Creation Of Free Zones

President John Dramani Mahama has advocated the creation of Free Zones in the various economic blocs in Africa to enhance intra-Africa trade and accelerate economic integration in the region. He stated that “if we continue to cocoon our labour forces in our individual countries without creating a larger market for which we can have a more optimum production and spare of goods and service then we are going to create a distortion in our labour markets.” Inaugurating the Center for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA) in Accra, President Mahama said “there is no debate about integration and its desirability, everybody accept that we will make faster progress if we are integrated and that it is a win-win situation for Africans but the debate has always been on how to achieve it.” President Mahama said the integration process, especially in the West African sub-region, would be greatly enhanced if there is appropriate infrastructure to ensure inter-connections and free movement of goods and services. He said free movement of goods and services will improve income and productivity among the citizens of member states. He said Nigeria has a major role to play in terms of moving the regional integration project forward because it has the largest economy and biggest market in West Africa. “Unfortunately that has not been the case. If Nigeria will take the leadership role I am sure that we will be able to make faster growth than we have done.” He reiterated Ghana’s commitment to regional integration. Dr. Kodjo Busia of the UN Economic Commission for Africa called on the continent’s leaders to prioritize economic and regional integration in their development agenda. According to him, “Without peace and democracy, Africa’s regional integration will be an illusion.” The Centre for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA), which was founded by Professor S. K. B. Asante, is aimed at providing institutional support at policy, technical and intellectual levels to contribute to the achievement of goals and objectives of integration schemes in Africa. CRIA intends to promote regionalism as a key element of African development strategies while also serving as a focal point of research and analysis on policy, issues and problems relating to sub-regional and regional integration process in Africa.