General News of Tue, 28 Nov 20060

Accra Governance Dialogue opens

Accra, Nov. 28, GNA - Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Tuesday called for a comprehensive public-private agenda to stem the causes of instability and ensure the attainment of human security in the West Africa Sub-Region.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Accra Governance Dialogue series, an initiative of 93Daily Graphic=94, Dr Chambas said that no meaningful discourse on economic growth and the fight against poverty, the main cause of conflict in the Sub-Region, could succeed without the active participation of the private sector at the table.

He said while governments had a primary responsibility to create infrastructure to cater for the educational; nutritional and medical needs of the population; the private sector constituted the ultimate machine for job creation and empowerment.

"No meaningful impacts can be made in the areas of infrastructure development; empowerment; job and wealth creation without the active participation of the private sector in efforts to scale up economic growth and attain the Millennium Development Goals. The "Accra Governance Dialogue," being held on the general theme "Consolidating Political Stability in Africa for Accelerated Economic Growth," seeks to contribute to the development, entrenchment of democracy and good governance in Ghana, West Africa and Africa as a whole.

It would develop a common framework to tackle the challenges of development confronting African countries.

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In a speech that spans the effort of ECOWAS in conflict prevention, Dr Chambas said bad governance in several African countries had led to the situation where the State had been unable to either mobilize internal resources or attract external investment for economic growth thus blighting development.

Besides, experiences from the Continent pointed to the fact that political stability that is enforced through repression, selective justice and alienation of minorities and dissenting views was not sustainable even within an environment of apparent economic growth. The bad practices include endemic corruption; bad government policies and the festering of an economic and political climate that discouraged investment.

Others were bureaucratic systems that did not lend themselves to public scrutiny; the abuse of minority rights as well as the absence of strong mechanisms, such parliaments, the media and the justice system, that ensured people's voices are heard and their rights upheld. On the contrary economic growth in an environment of good governance and social justice promotes sustainable development and human security. The evolving conflict dynamics in the Sub-Region coupled with field experience convinced ECOWAS Leaders to rethink the inter-relationship between security and development and to raise conflict prevention to the same status as the development agenda.

The African Continent must consolidate democracy and upscale socio-economic development if it were to take its rightful place in the 21st century.

To build and sustain peace and stability, there is the need to go beyond containment towards strategies aimed at the core causes of societal discord.

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He said even while ECOWAS had invested enormous resources in stabilizing the Sub-Region, it had not abandoned its primary goal of economic integration and development of the Area. "ECOWAS continues in partnership with the private sector to facilitate the development of region-wide infrastructure and set standards for greater economic integration." The ECOWAS Infrastructure Programme includes important programmes in the fields of energy, air, sea and road transport as well as telecommunications and the 500 million-dollar flagship West Africa Gas Pipeline Project.

Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Information and National Orientation, asked Ghanaians to guide jealously the dividend of democracy they were enjoying now, saying that after four successful elections the seeds of democracy was being entrenched in the country. He said the freedom of speech; repeal of the Criminal Libel Law had pushed the frontiers of free speech forward, thus enhancing the country's young democracy.

Mr Bartels said the increasin g GDP growth rate being experienced by the country was a demonstration that good governance enhanced prosperity.

Mr Berifi Apenteng, Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, said the dialogue, which would be an annual affair had been instituted by the 93Daily Graphic=94 to contribute to the process of building a strong democratic culture on the African Continent. He said although political stability had not always engendered good or rapid national development, it was obvious that without a stable political environment the countries could not reduce poverty or create enough wealth to meaningfully improve the lives of the people. Professor Kwame Gyekye, Chairman of the Graphic Board, said good governance could not be left to government alone because it was a task that required the collective participation of all. Participating countries include Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 28 Nov. 06

Source: GNA

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