Mr. Speaker, I will not let the latter comment distract me. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, I chose my words carefully; I said the ECOWAS is older than the EU. I did not talk about the EEC -- [Hear! Hear!] There are different levels of integration and I know why I said the EU instead of the EEC.
Mr. Speaker, I was making the point that even though we have a protocol of free movement of people and that protocol says that any ECOWAS citizen moving into another ECOWAS country is entitled to a ninety-day visa-free stay, the last time I travelled to a neighbouring ECOWAS country and the immigration officer asked me how long I would be staying and I said I would be there for two weeks, he gave me exactly two weeks. As an ECOWAS citizen, he should have given me ninety days, even though I did not intend to stay there for ninety days.
Mr. Speaker, when I arrive in the UK and they ask me how long I want to stay and I say I am staying for five days, I am given six months. Mr. Speaker, what is it that makes it difficult for us to be able to achieve the level of integration, after so many years, that other parts are able to achieve?
Mr. Speaker, if you take trade between Africa and the rest of the world, it has depreciated from four per cent to just about
one per cent of total world trade; the share of Africa is just above one per cent.
Mr. Speaker, that should not be a
problem. But if you look at the other statistics, if you take the total continental trade of Africa, the trade among African countries amounts to only eleven per cent. Of the total trade of Africa, only 11 per cent is trade among ourselves.
Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to understand
what creates the orientation where we prefer to import things from outside Africa rather than importing from amongst ourselves. Tonnes and tonnes of salt are imported from Brazil into Africa every year, meanwhile next door to most African countries, countries like Ghana have huge reserves of salt.
Mr. Speaker, we have been struggling with monetary union for several years. In the case of our current attempt, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, we have kept postponing the date for the monetary union; so it is nowhere closer.
Mr. Speaker, a decision was taken that
each country in Africa should set up a Ministry of New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and Regional Integration. Mr. Speaker, this Ministry was duly set up under the administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Very happily, when President Kufuor took over power in his first term, he maintained this Ministry and appointed a Minister to the Ministry. But Mr. Speaker, very shockingly, sadly and unfortunately, in the last Cabinet reshuffle, that Ministry has disappeared -- [Uproar] -- and it has been swallowed up by the Foreign Ministry.
Mr. Speaker, it was a deliberate
decision. We knew that we had Foreign Ministries but we took a decision that we should all set up Ministries of Regional Integration so that we could push the