Monday, June 23, 2014

FEATURE: "EAST AFRICA RISING- ‘What can West Africa learn from Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia?"

EAST AFRICA RISING- ‘What can West Africa learn from Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia?’
by Elizabeth Owusu-Kissi, AIF News Reporter

The Oxford dictionary defines as bureaucracy as ‘The system of official rules and ways of doing things that a government or organization has, especially when these seem to be too complicated’.
Bureaucracy remains one of the many challenges facing the African continent when we talk of trade in Africa. How can we learn from each other? What have other countries done that we can learn from? These and many more questions were asked by the Host, Mr. Emmanuel K Bensah on the Africa in Focus show on 17 June.

On the topic “East Africa Rising”, the “Africa in Focus” show was graced with the presence of His Excellency Joseph Habineza, Rwanda High Commissioner to Abuja- Nigeria and also Mr. Uwem Thompson of ECOWAS, ERERA (Regional Energy Regulatory Authority).
Among many questions answered, Ambassador Joseph Habineza shared some of the progressive developments in Rwanda that can be adopted by most West African states, such as Ghana. He highlighted some key factors of the Rwanda economy, saying that Rwanda has been able to reduce bureaucracy and minimize corruption.

Touching on gender, it is quite clear that the Ambassador believe in women empowerment, saying Rwanda has about 64% female House of Representative, hence the more reason to the importance of Girl-child education in Africa.

He added that the barrier to trade in Africa is lack of adequate free movement, lamenting on the reality that we (Africans) neglect the presence of our fellow Africans in our countries and rather welcome the foreign Americans by appreciating them in our trade market compare to our fellow brother from Africa.

Energy in Africa is salient, yet our maintenance culture towards hydro is poor. Ambassador Habineza pointed that most hydros in Africa were built in the sixties and pre-independence era and we forget maintenance. He said there is the need for modern facilities in our sector of Energy and the use of solar system.

Mr. Uwem Thompson in the discussion also buttressed the point on gender, saying although there is an ECOWAS gender policy, few are aware of it, hence the need to educate people on this policy for development. He said when it comes to regulation for the market in West Africa, not all African states are at par. He said although ERERA does not interfere in each member states’ policy, they are there to ensure harmony for the market through established physical infrastructure.

At the level of ERERA, they are hoping to set up a system or infrastructure for the consumer of the market. They will first be educated on the basics on their rights and duties as consumers. Mr. Thompson added that ECOWAS ERERA operates at the level of regional policy, and the need for domestication of responsibility of each member state to deliver.

Both Ambassador Habineza and Mr. Thompson lamented that Africans talk a lot with little results. We can be self-sufficient when we harmonize and work to overcome the bureaucracy that exists in some African countries.


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