EDITORIAL: African countries should learn to honour their undertakings

Tomorrow,the Pan African Parliament begins sittings in Kigali and one of the points on the Agenda will be the African Peer Review Mechanism, Africa’s self-assessment tool that was put in place in 2013.

Signatory countries are supposed to share experiences in order to promote good governance. It is therefore very telling that, 15 years down the road, only 37 countries have come on board.

From past experience, some countries, it seems, are followed around by paranoia and view everything with suspicion even if it is in their best interest.

A good example is the African Free Trade Area. Despite the advantages of having one big African market, countries that have deposited their ratification documents can be counted on the fingers. No wonder intra-African trade is still struggling at around 20 per cent.

The same feet-dragging can be said of the East African Community. Some countries are slow in changing their methods of work, and it is usually out of fear of the unknown.

When partner-states adopted the Single Customs Territory in order to ease doing business, they all agreed to join the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System to save time and money. Now transporters are complaining that Tanzania and Burundi’s reluctance to join is hindering business.

When the Pan African Parliament begins sitting, it should try to find out why some countries are still dragging their feet when it comes to pooling strengths and if necessary allay their fears.

The East African Legislative Assembly which one of its commissions is also in Kigali should do the same and find out what is holding up some countries from implementing agreed policies. It is time countries adopted the culture of walking the talk

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