Calls have been made for Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to be fused to one West African economic bloc, an argument that Franklin Cudjoe, head of policy think tank IMANI Ghana, insists can go a long way to bridge the Anglo-Francophone divide in the sub-region.
According to Cudjoe, merging these two large economies is far more crucial than the call for a united African state. Citing arguments of commonality in both economies – cultivation of cocoa, increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP), free borders – the economist is sure that a new “Ghanivoire” could be the greatest solution to West Africa’s economic woes.
In his publication Ghana-Côte d’Ivoire: A new country, Cudjoe postulates:
Assuming a hypothetical scenario in which people and goods could cross freely between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, many revolutionary things would be possible. A domesticated global centre for cocoa would come with the ability to determine prices and control production – creating an OPEC of cocoa, COCOPEC. This could leverage the ability of the two powerhouses to attract investment in processing plants, with significant opportunities for job creation.
“Whereas both countries dominate what is estimated to be a $9bn-per-year industry, a new joint country could make giant strides into the high-end chocolate industry, which is estimated to be worth $87bn a year. This would lead major players such as Mars, Nestlé and Cadbury to relocate some of their production facilities from North America and Europe,”he argued.
With both countries having battled a protracted energy crisis, the Ghanaian economist suggests that merging both West African economies has the greatest potential of making West Africa a regional and even national hub for energy – a move which has the potential of boosting investment and subsequent industrialization in the region.
Despite the fair arguments by Franklin Cudjoe, questions remain as to whether or not both West African states can survive an economic merger, especially when they are currently battling with a maritime dispute which has even been put before the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg. ITLOS has thus ordered a number of provisional measures with which both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are required to comply, until ITLOS gives its decision in late 2017.
Meanwhile, the two presidents Alhassan Outarra of Côte d’Ivoire and John Dramani Mahama of Ghana reiterated their commitment to talks promoting regional integration for the benefit of their respective countries.