“Africa in Focus” Show on Radio XYZ93.1 FM returns with a discussion on Africa’s integration
By E.K.Bensah Jr
After almost two weeks of being off air, the one-month old “Africa in Focus” show is back with a bang on Radio xyz93.1 fm.
In the last edition on 3 June, 2014, Emmanuel hosted two people in the studio. These were Ashesi University’s Dr. Lloyd Amoah, and Capacity Building Development Officer of the West Africa Civil Society Institute(WACSI) Charles Van Dyck.
On the line in Addis were Dr.Joseph Atta-Mensah of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and Mkhululi Ncube, former UNECA official-turned-entrepreneur in his own country of Zimbabwe.
The show sought to interrogate the question of whether Africa is integrating. The general consensus at the end of the show clearly showed there is a lot of work to be done on sensitizing Africans to the urgency of building Africa’s integration process.
As explained by the UNECA’s Dr.Joseph Atta-Mensah, there are a number of milestones that have been chalked along the road to Africa’s integration. These include the Sirte Declaration on 1999 that sought to fast-track integration. He concedes there remains much to be done – even if leaders are slowly and surely recognizing the necessity of integration.
Mkhu Ncube related to the audience how the East African Business Council works very efficiently – as does the one for the COMESA sub-region (populated by 19 member countries). He confessed that though he is a national of the SADC region, he cannot vouch for the efficiency of a Business Council in that part of the world. Without a doubt, though, he believes the private sector is going to have to take charge on Africa’s integration, because governments are never going to automatically give that space.
We learnt from Dr.Amoah, who has recently penned a book on Africa’s telecommunications, that there are only three member countries – Ghana; Nigeria; and Rwanda – that have so-called TelChams, or Telecommunications Chambers. By virtue of Ghana’s small market being populated by six telcos, this country was always going to be an important test-case on TelChams. Nigeria’s is the largest, though not necessarily the most efficient. With regard to Rwanda, we find this to be an interesting case in the sense that that country is seeking to position itself as the cyber-gateway to East Africa. This is certainly something many African countries can learn from—as well as leveraging on the immense potential that telcos offer to help create synergy in Africa’s integration. All that said, it is pitiful to have only three member countries out of a whopping fifty-four be the only ones to have TelChams.
WACSI’s Charles VanDyck stressed the fact that African integration is a “bread-and-butter” issue, and that African peoples are already integrating. It is time governments began to domesticate the many protocols they are quick to sign, and ensure that Africans feel well-integrated. Even if West Africa has made commendable effort on free movement, clearly, much still needs to be done.