Development of inter-African trade will provide the necessary impetus for full continental integration, according to the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes.
Opening the 51st session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) here Monday, Hughes said African parliaments had an important role to play in the development of inter-African trade, through the enactment of appropriate legislations and control of government actions.
“Inter-African trade is a key element in speeding and eventually realising the integration of Africa,” he said, expressing optimism that the 30th Conference of the APU, also to be held here 28-30 November 2007, would give momentum to the action that African parliaments might undertake in that regard.
The Conference debate would be on two themes: ‘The Role of Parliaments in the Protection of Environment and the Implementation of Sustainable Development’ and ‘Development of Inter-African Trade with a view to Speeding up the Process of Integration’.
Underlining the importance of environment protection, Hughes told the APU Executive Committee the concepts of the protection of the environment and sustainable development were not only inter-related, but had evolved to include many new notions.
During its two-day session, the Committee will consider and adopt the APU budget and annual work programme for 2008.
On the budget, Hughes, who is currently acting Chair of the Committee, emphasised the need for member countries to settle their financial contributions regularly in order to avoid accumulation of arrears.
Also, he called on all African national parliaments to join the APU in order to turn it into a forum of parliamentary meetings for the entire continent.
“Membership of the Pan-African Parliament is different in nature from that of the APU and is, therefore, not a duplication. These institutions complement the efforts of each other aimed at realising the common interest of the continent,” Hughes explained.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of Ethiopia’s House of Peoples’ Representatives, Teshome Toga, has welcomed the APU Executive Committee members, saying undue pressure to create Africa in the West’s image without taking into account the African realities could only be counter-productive.
Pointing out that Africa has defined its development strategy in the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Teshome added: “Those who are genuinely concerned about democracy and good governance in Africacan partner with and support our choice.
“Democracy can only take root in Africa if it is homegrown and with full involve ment and participation of our peoples. Democracy can’t be imposed from outside. After all we have willingly and consciously chosen democratic governance.”