Please kindly offer me space in your widely read daily newspaper and join me to render a big applause to President Jammeh for the fitting celebration of our 50 years of nationhood.
The president took over power in a bloodless coup on 22 July, 1994 with no looting. This was done professionally and he started working very hard and honestly for the interest of all Gambians. He has over the years built roads, schools, health centres, hospitals and bridges. He built the Babili Mansa bridge of Kerewan and Sulayman Junkung Bridge of Sankulay kunda. The University of The Gambia and national television were soon to follow.
The above mentioned developments, are being enjoyed by all Gambians regardless of political and religious inclinations. Of course, I am not forgetting the street lights in many parts of the country as well as paying the salaries of civil servants without delay.
At the time he took over power in a peaceful manner, many critics were predicting that his government will fail and that within six months his government will not be capable of paying salaries. This has been proven to be false and unfounded by the president and his able government worked hard for the welfare of all Gambians. Seeing is believing. I cannot compare the era of 20 years of development and the 30 years of PPP misrule with the 400 years of the colonial rule.
These developments are there for Gambians to see for themselves. Gambians are no fools. The opposition please keep quiet and join the development bandwagon of the APRC.
The need for African Integration
There is much support from African governments for regional integration. Indeed since independence they have embraced regional integration as an important component of their development strategies and concluded a very large number of regional integration arrangements (RIAs), several of which have significant membership overlap. There are however few success stories. African RIAs are generally ambitious schemes with unrealistic time frames towards deeper integration and in some cases even political union. African RIAs are usually neighbourhood arrangements.
Traditionally, the European Union was Africa’s most important trade, investment and development partner.
Trade with the EU was governed by a series of Lomé Conventions, which
granted African countries (excluding South Africa) unilateral preferential access to EU markets.
The EU and African countries concluded the Cotonou Agreement which paved the way for the negotiation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatible Economic Partnership Agreements, in 2000. Various configurations of African countries have constituted negotiating groups; many of which however cut across existing neighbourhood regional integration arrangements, adding an additional layer of complexity to the regional integration process in Africa.
The protracted and difficult EPA negotiations reflect to some extent the difference between the African paradigm of regional integration and the EU’s model of regional trade agreements, but also the challenges of African regional integration.
The EPA negotiations revealed important gaps between political ambitions and economic reality in African regional integration. Debates about the African integration agenda and indeed Africa’s strategy for integration into the global economy are emerging from these negotiations, which are still ongoing.
The African paradigm is that of linear market integration, following stepwise integration of goods, labour and capital markets, and eventually monetary and fiscal integration. The starting point is usually a free trade area, followed by a customs union, a common market, and then the integration of monetary and fiscal matters to establish an
economic union. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to urge African governments to do more in enhancing African integration.