Ayorkor Botchwey calls for repositioning of The Commonwealth 

By Iddi Yire

Accra, Nov 11, GNA – Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has called for the repositioning of The Commonwealth to help transform the economies of member states and to ensure their resilience. 

Speaking at Chatham House, London on the topic “The Commonwealth Reimagined for a fast-changing world to respond to the needs of our people and the planet”, the Minister highlighted six areas for repositioning the Commonwealth, namely trade and investment; youth education, skills, innovation, start-ups; mobility and labour markets; climate change; small states; and managing resources for an effective Commonwealth Institution. 

“If we are to meet the ambitions of the citizens of the Commonwealth, it is clear that we need a development 

cooperation framework that works for all the Commonwealth as a community,” Madam Botchwey said. 

She said the Commonwealth provided a unique setting for international cooperation, with the ability to convene 56 countries from five different regions, including some of the largest and richest countries in the world, and some of the smallest and most vulnerable.  

She said the Commonwealth had a population of 2.5 billion, adding that 60 per cent of the population was aged 30 or younger.  

Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said by numbers, demographic data, political profile, wealth and economic potential as well as re-profiling to build resilience in the face of climate change and the future world of work, the Commonwealth should be the second most consequential organisation of states globally, saying “but the question we must ask ourselves is whether it is.” 

Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said the Commonwealth does enable member countries in different regions of the world, consisting of a variety of races and representing a number of interests and points of view, to cooperate through the exchange of opinions in a friendly, informal, and intimate atmosphere. 

Touching on trade and investment, Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said the largest number of citizens in the Commonwealth did not earn enough to power the production and market expansion needed to create economic security, whether in the industrialized or developing regions of the Commonwealth.  

“We need to deliver a framework for Commonwealth trade to surpass the potential $2 trillion trade within the Commonwealth,” she said. 

She noted that having a common Commonwealth strategy for industrialization, and economic diversification, strategically linked to Regional Integration Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements within and beyond the Commonwealth, was a guarantee against the stagnation that is widespread across our countries.  

She said: “Our citizens watch as we struggle with policies to raise growth in isolation through austerity and high taxes. The pie is simply not capable of feeding everyone unless consumer-based market expansion considers the potential of our 2.5 billion population.” 

With regard to youth, education, skills, innovation and start-ups, the Minister said young people in the Commonwealth constitute a third of all young people in the world.  

She said with advances in information and communications technology (ICT), automation and artificial intelligence (AI) and the innovations of social media for distance learning, building the tech and other 

workers of the 21st century for a Commonwealth-wide market of high knowledge-intensive innovation and services is an achievable goal in the short term.  

She said closing the Commonwealth’s digital gap in health, education, and trade; building the digital infrastructure to boost connectivity within and between Commonwealth countries was an important way forward. 

She said taking advantage of the best practices and attainments across the Commonwealth, they could design core curriculum and common standards and facilitate access to borderless financing to ensure that they were the leaders in innovation, start-ups, and services in the world. 

“We need to leverage our commonwealth and economic potential as well as the potential for re-profiling to build resilience in the face of our changing world,” she said. 

The Minister said the rich part of the Commonwealth needed the poorer part as much as the poorer part needs the richer part.  

“Unless we strategize on how to make the developing country members of the Commonwealth, who constitute 94 per cent of the organization, a vital part of an agenda of ensuring and promoting democracy and good governance, economic transformation, and resilience of all the Commonwealth, we shall all be the poorer for it,” she stated.