Former President of Ghana John Kuffor has said that African leaders have been paying lip service to trade integration.
Speaking in Abuja at a business forum in the on-going NEPAD Africa trade fair on indigenous products and services, the former Ghanaian president said that, in reality, African leaders have given primacy to political union on the continent.
He said: “I believe this has been the main cause of Africa not making any head way for the call for unification whether continentally or regionally. I believe that we must go back to the drawing board and get ourselves sincerely committed to seeing how we can use trade as the first step towards integration.”
He said that the leadership of the continent should understand that trade is a vehicle through which they can attain the African Union they have been canvassing for the past 20 to 30 years.
“If you take West Africa alone, we will find a quarter of a billion people, which means that we will be engendering wealth that will facilitate the laying of infrastructure in terms of education, transportation, power, telecommunication which are the necessary underpinning for real unity.”
He said that the political unity or union will come to provide the framework of uniformity of values of laws and security which will be needed to sustain common interest as one people, one market that will command the attention of investors from all over the world.
He said for the West African sub-region, until they remove the colonial barriers that are preventing her from having a common market or allowing people to move freely across borders and also facilitating the private sector to produce and supply every where, the region cannot be integrated to get the benefit of trade.
In an addrees, the chairman of the forum, President of African Business Round table and Chairman NEPAD business group, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, said there is need for Africa visa rules to be cut down in order to allow Africans move everywhere to trade within the continent.
He challenged the African leadership to have the political will to implement all the protocols on trade integration.
Sunday Williams 31 October 2010 |Daily Trust (Abuja)|
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