Stakeholders in West Africa private sector have developed a strategic plan that will boost intra-community trade from the current 13 per cent and improve the regional business climate to make it the preferred destination for investors.
The one-year strategic and action plan (2008-2009) emanated from the just-concluded first ECOWAS business forum in Accra and enunciates various activities for implementation during the period to enable the private sector contribute to the creation of a single market and investment climate by ensuring the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital flow within the region.
The plan will also enable the sector meet the challenges of the impending single regional currency that will facilitate trade and macro-economic stability as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being negotiated between ECOWAS and the European Union for a free trade area of the two regions.
Activities to be undertaken include the sensitizing and engaging stakeholders on the status of the single currency project, formalizing the informal foreign exchange market and enhancing the capacity of this sector so as to improve the capacity and competitiveness of the regional economy to prepare them for the implications of the EPA.
The plan includes a mechanism for assisting this sector contribute to the financing of regional integration by ensuring access to long-term financing and unhindered free flow of capital within the region.
The three-day forum on harnessing private sector energies for the challenges of integration was a joint project of ECOWAS, the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA), ECOBANK, USAID, PZ and the Ghana Chamber of Commerce.