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Integration Is The Answer

Nov 16, 2009, 12:08 PM

We sincerely agree with the Sudanese business tycoon that Africa needs integration now than ever if we are to realise economic independence among comity of nations.

For far too long, this continent of ours has been plagued by wars and conflicts, coupled with the spate of poverty, diseases and underdevelopments. In making comparison of the continent to other parts of the world, one would not loose sight of the fact that Africa in terms of natural resources is substantially rich.

Perhaps what is lacking is the know how to exploit those resources for the betterment of our people. In the words of Mo Ibrahim, African states must integrate immediately or some will not survive the throes of time. As he professed, if not "some of our countries, and I'm really sorry to say this, are just not viable."

Mr. Ibrahim was speaking at the opening of a two-day event, meant to promote good governance in Africa, which appears to have slipped following a spate of coups in the past two years.

The business tycoon got it right when he hammered home as to whether 53 tiny little countries in Africa, are ready to compete with China, India, Europe, the Americans?

The answer is quite evident: unless and until we Africans discard regionalism, and focus on uniting the continent we will not make headway. Several overlapping regional groupings throughout the continent are trying to knit their economies closer together, but the pace and extent of integration is slower than our hopes.

Intra-African trade is 4-5 percent of our international trade. Why? This is unacceptable, unviable, and people need to stand up and say this.

We are poor, we are hungry, we are going without, said Ibrahim adding that something is drastically wrong somewhere.

"I think we have the right to ask our leaders whether they are really serious," he stated as a matter of fact.

To be a President in Africa is akin to be a big man, because of the flamboyancy that goes with it. We must get rid of corruption and all forms of scourges bedeviling the continent, and come together for the betterment of our dear people.

"Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam,
His first best country ever is at home."

Oliver Goldsmith