Cote d'Ivoire's Alassane Ouattara, who currently chairs the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on Thursday called for the effective free movement of peoples and goods within the bloc.
“I think that the rate of intra-community trade, which today stands at only 16 percent, is low. In 1996, it was about 10 percent. This development, which is clearly insufficient, could be explained by the structure of trade, which is marked by homogeneity of goods and services. We also have numerous controls on corridors, illegal levies, incidental charges and at the end of long delays for the transport of goods,” Ouattara.
He was in the presence of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso, at the ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) in Ouagadougou.
The Burkinabe capital serves as the headquarters of the sub-regional institution.
President Ouattara went on to point out that the border harassment of motorists, especially those carrying goods, has created the urge to build a number of highways, including Lagos-Abidjan, via Lomé, Cotonou and Accra, and another linking Abidjan and Ouagadougou, via Korhogo and Bobo-Dioulasso.
According to the current chairman of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of UEMOA, until these projects are realised, “everything must be done to curb this phenomenon because it is too expensive to cross borders. We must stop the racketeering which, unfortunately, is the daily lot of many of our fellow citizens”.
The President of UEMOA Commission, Abdallah Boureima said that “since 1995, the bloc has made major progress that has led to it being considered today as a model for successful economic integration in Africa.”
He argued that to this end, “we can legitimately be proud of the work accomplished by the union’s bodies, namely the Conference of Heads of State and Government, the Statutory Council of Ministers, the Commission and other specialised bodies and institutions.”
Mr. Boureima pointed out that “UEMOA, operating in a context marked by profound and rapid changes and the existence of multiple and complex challenges, must demonstrate a real capacity for adaptation to preserve and consolidate its many achievements.”
Thus, for the emergence of intra-community trade, which is struggling to take off, he revealed that “the Commission will organise an international symposium next June in order to contribute to the definition of strategies to contribute effectively to it.”
Created on January 10, 1994 in Dakar, Senegal, UEMOA currently has 120.2 million inhabitants and a GDP growth rate of 6.7 percent in 2017.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Burkina Faso are the eight member states of UEMOA, which covers an area of 3,506,126 km².