NACCIMA advocates regional integration for enhanced development
The President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Iyalode Alaba Lawson has advocated improved bilateral ties among West African states as part of measures to enhance economic development.
Speaking when a delegation from the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) visited the chamber in Lagos, in a bid to strengthen regional cooperation among member states, Lawson stated that in the 41 years of FEWACCI’s existence, the West African region has benefitted from increased collaboration and cooperation among private sector players, adding that development agencies have found in them, a worthy partner in information dessimation, data gathering and standard setting.
Pointing out that many African countries were going through difficult times, she revealed that ECOWAS member states are becoming increasingly aware that the economic growth and development of one state is linked to that of other member states.
Lawson added that more than ever, free movement, creation of a customs union and a common market have become paramount to the sustainable development of the region as opportunities are arising to improve trade among member states which currently stands at less than 12percent of total trade.
The NACCIMA president called for stronger economic ties, quicker information exchange, extensive dialogue and effective conflict resolution amongst member states. She urged for the continuous removal of bottlenecks, a factor she says that stands in the way of trade and the economic growth and sustainable development of West Africa.
Asked on how regional development would help in regards to commerce in Nigeria, she said: “For the last two days, the EU, World Bank and inter-organized private sector from FEWACCI, in conjunction with NACCIMA have been rubbing minds together on how we can move this region forward. We have highlighted the challenges, the gains and how we can move the ECOWAS region forward economically. We have noted that cross-border trade and the implementation of some policies that would make it easy to move goods and people across, are the areas we have to look into immediately”.
“Since the government and policy makers always talk theory, it behooves on us, the stakeholders and the organized private sector to do the practical side of it and so we have to work together to see how we can do this. That is why I decided to host the FEWACCI group, from the 16 countries in Africa, both Anglophone and Francophone speaking countries to see how we can integrate ourselves as organized private sector to move commerce forward in our region.”
Speaking on the difficulty in trade integrations across the sub regions, compared to conducting international business across the seas, which is easier, she blamed it on border gluts and language differences.