Editorial: Shaping the future of democracy and trade in West Africa


The fractures within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso exiting the bloc, coupled with developments in Senegal paint a stark picture of the region’s fragility.

As Ghana gears up for the crucial December elections, the stakes have never been higher as they transcend the national border and have become a regional responsibility.

Ensuring peaceful, credible, and inclusive polls is not just about choosing leaders; it is about Ghana taking a stand for stability in a turbulent sub-region.

The success of the upcoming elections – one of 19 across the continent in 2024 – carries the potential to ripple outwards, bolstering investor confidence and attracting much-needed foreign investment.

A stable democracy with strong institutions sends a clear message – Ghana remains committed to democratic norms, a critical factor for economic growth.

This, in turn, can act as a catalyst for regional stability, demonstrating that democratic processes deliver positive outcomes, and inspiring others to follow suit.

Furthermore, our success can challenge the negative narrative often associated with West Africa. By showcasing an impartial acceptance of the will of the people, a smooth transition of power and a vibrant democracy, we can project an image of hope and progress, countering the perception of unrestrained conflict and instability that often overshadows the region.

However, the path to success is not without its hurdles. The threat of electoral disputes and their attendant issues loom large.

To safeguard the process and prevent regional spillover, total adherence to established electoral laws and regulations is paramount. All stakeholders, including political parties, candidates, and the electoral commission, must operate within the boundaries of these regulations, fostering trust and transparency.

Additionally, addressing voter concerns proactively, such as tackling irregularities in registration and disenfranchisement, ongoing debates about the month of the exercise as well as the use of ink can nip potential grievances in the bud.

We repeat that open and inclusive dialogue between political actors is crucial, ensuring differences are resolved peacefully and tensions do not escalate.

Beyond its domestic implications, our elections – Presidential and Parliamentary – hold significant weight for intra-regional trade and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

This ambitious initiative, aiming to create a market of over 1.2 billion people, hinges on stable and predictable environments within member states. Ghana’s success can act as a catalyst, boosting trade volumes within ECOWAS, which currently stand at a meager 15 percent, far below its potential.

Take a moment to envision how stable and progressive Ghana will become a hub for manufacturing and trade, attracting investment and fostering the development of regional value chains.

Moreover, peaceful elections will serve as a powerful signal to the wider continent, showcasing the AfCFTA’s potential to drive economic growth and prosperity across Africa.

Ghana’s December elections are not merely about choosing our leaders; we dare say they are a referendum on the region’s stability and its commitment to progress.

By ensuring peaceful, credible, and inclusive polls, we will not only solidify our own democratic gains but also contribute to broader regional stability and pave the way for a brighter economic future for all of West Africa. The world is watching. Let Ghana’s elections be a testament to the power of democracy and a source of inspiration for the continent.

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