By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
Trade within Africa is central to the development of the African continent, says Ghanaian-born Member of Parliament (MP) in Britain, Lord Paul Boateng.
According to him, for the African continent to succeed, a lot of responsibilities lie on Ghana, since it had taken a giant step towards deepening democracy in the continent.
“We need to breathe new life into the African continent, and we cannot afford to wait for that. We need to build on the sole initiative that comes from Ghana,” he said in an address to the Ghanaian Parliament yesterday.
Global financial crisis
Lord Boateng’s comment came at the backdrop of the global financial crisis that affected major economies in the world, with the African continent receiving its share of the damaging results.
World growth, according to Lord Boateng, was slashed from an average of about 6% over the period 2006 to 2008, whilst it continued to decline to 2.5% in 2009, with GDP growth “coming to a near standstill.”
The situation, he said, affected financial flows in the areas of trade and remittances, and said income losses in sub-Saharan Africa stood at more than US$50 billion, with a consequential rise in unemployment, poverty and hunger.
He said 50 million people sat in absolute poverty during the crises, with the number expected to rise to 90 million by the end of December 2010, a situation, he said, threatens global political stability.
“This threatens global political stability. It undermines the millennium development goals which remain largely elusive across the continent. We need to have a global community; all the Houses of Parliament, whether in Ghana or in the United Kingdom. We need to have a response that takes into account the impact and realities on the ground in each of your constituencies, and in the constituencies in the United Kingdom,” he emphasised.
He attributed the financial crisis to defective regulatory systems that exist in major economies in the world, and therefore, called for a stronger partnership between the west and Africa to find a way out.
According to Lord Boateng, the time has come for the world to come together to have a regulatory system with a globally agreed and enforceable standards to rectify the financial crisis, and to ensure that it does not happen again.
“We, in the west, will take our share of the responsibilities for the global crisis. We do so, and we need to partner with you, as we seek to gather to find a way out. It has to be a partnership that is based on mutual respect. That is why Ghana is important as a leader of the African continent. That is why activities of all the central banks, and that of the ministries of finance, are so very important in ensuring that the global response is one that takes into account the need of developing economies, such as those in Ghana,” he noted.