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Envoy laments low trade volume between Nigeria, Ghana


The High Commissioner of Ghana to Nigeria, William Azumah Awinador Kanyirige has said that trade relations between both countries is currently lower than expected despite the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and persons in the region.

The envoy, who spoke at a recent interview in Abuja, also lamented the low cultural exchanges between the two top Commonwealth countries in the sub-region.

“Our trade exchanges are regrettably low because on the one hand, despite the ECOWAS protocols on free movement of persons and goods, we still face certain obstacles to the exchanges, which need to be managed properly”.

“If you look at the Nigerian side, in terms of financing and investment, the country has comparative advantage over Ghana. So, we notice that a lot of Nigerian banks are locating in Ghana to help with promoting trade and investment within the Ghanaian economy and also between Nigeria and Ghana, supporting the exchanges.

“On our side, it is only one bank, the UT bank, which is Ghanaian -owned, that has been able to enter the Nigerian financial market in Lagos”, he said.

He added however that “there is a lot going on between our two countries and it goes back to centuries ago in the trans-Saharan trade through to the colonial period. And even during the colonial period our civil service was mobile and exchanges were going on between the colonies”.

“After independence, the same thing has continued given our common history. The difficulty is that you can only speak in general terms because our data collection is difficult and our relations are very more informal than formal between these two countries.

“For instance, if you ask me how many Ghanaians are in Nigeria and vice versa, I cannot answer that question. But there is a lot going on between our two countries in all spheres in terms of political exchanges, in terms of regular consultations between our political and public leaders, there is a lot going on at the cultural level between our two countries.

“Unfortunately relations at the cultural levels are not as they used to be… we don’t see much of that today in institutionalised form”.

It would be recalled that Ghana celebrated its 58th independence recently. At the event held to mark the celebration in Abuja, Kanyirige urged that as some African countries go to the polls in 2015, regional bodies such as the African Union (AU) and the ECOWAS Commission should harmonise their policies with a view to ensuring that elections in Africa are devoid of violence.

He advised that the regional bodies should work at ensuring that elections are used to reorganize the continent instead of allowing them to degenerate into crisis and conflicts.

“What happens in Nigeria is very similar to what happens in Ghana. In Africa today, the key challenge for us is how we can use our elections to reorganise ourselves and not to allow elections to degenerate into conflicts. That is the challenge facing not only Nigeria but the rest of us and this is where institutions like ECOWAS and African Union need to harmonise their policies in order to ensure that we have credible elections, that the people can participate in and be satisfied with, however imperfect it may be”.

On how both countries can strengthen their ties, he stated that, “we should go back to our roots and realise that we have a common ancestry. If we do that then national cohesion is easier and in regional integration, our officials in ECOWAS must do the same so that we can overcome this distraction of linguistic divide of Anglophone and Francophone countries. There is a lot difficulty but we are getting there”, he said.

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