Inaugurating a two-day international conference marking the launch of a two year regional project on competition policy and law, the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development & President’s Special Initiatives of Ghana, Hon’ble Kwaku Agyeman-Manu stressed on the commitment of the Ghanaian government towards evolving competitive markets in the country to achieve economic growth and development.
CUTS International is implementing this project (entitled, Strengthening Constituencies towards effective competition regimes in select countries of West Africa, also referred to as the 7Up4 project) in seven countries of West Africa, viz. Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo with support from the Department for International Development (DFID), UK; International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden. The project is being initiated through the conference, being jointly organized by CUTS International, India and ISSER, Ghana and held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana.
The Deputy Minister emphasised that the project marks the start of a historic journey for the countries involved and indeed the ECOWAS region towards evolving better markets for economic development and poverty reduction. Complementing the initiative, he endorsed it would complement efforts being made at the national and the regional level to improve the business climate. He observed that, “The time has come to institute modern laws and institutions that provide level playing field across board, both at the national and regional levels” in West Africa.
Earlier, speaking at the occasion, the Honourable Ambassador of India, Mrs. Ruchi Ghanashyam underscored the need for strengthening south-south economic cooperation for achieving better developmental objectives for developing countries. She had alluded to various mechanisms through which India has been forging cooperation with other developing countries in order to share knowledge and enhance mutual capacities, especially in the areas of education, trade, etc. A specific mechanism that she referred to in her remarks was that of ‘triangular cooperation’ or ‘trilateral development cooperation’ that involves technical assistance provision by one developing country to the other, with support from a third developed country. The fact that the above project was an example of such a cooperation mechanism was also highlighted.
Ernest Aryeetey, Director, ISSER, Ghana asserted the need for developing countries to evolve the right regulatory environment and institutions to catalyse private sector development. He endorsed the need for regulatory research to inform policy in a developing country like Ghana, and was pleased to be associated with the 7Up4 project (as the partners institution of CUTS in Ghana), as the project provided the opportunity for such objective research.
Mike Hammond, Head of DFID, Ghana conveyed that the British government recognised the need for a dynamic private sector to emerge (especially in the developing world) for economic development; and that an effective competition regime constituted an important component of an enabling environment that facilitates the emergence of a dynamic private sector. He reiterated DFID’s commitment to regulatory reforms in Ghana, as in other countries in the region, and expected the 7Up4 project to be able to contribute substantially towards that goal.
Secretary General of CUTS International, Pradeep S Mehta in his opening remarks had provided a detailed outline of the work of CUTS in the areas of competition policy and law. He indicated that CUTS is committed to assisting developing and least developed countries of Asia and Africa to advocate for competition reforms as a means to achieve economic development and consumer welfare. CUTS has worked already in 20 countries across Africa and Asia, before the 7Up4 project, primarily assisting civil society, government and business community to appreciate the need and benefits from a healthy competition environment.