The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, and Mr Lord Boateng of the International Relations and Defence Committee of the UK House of Lords, have expressed concern over the security situation in the Sahel region and the possibility of it spreading into other parts of West Africa.
They called on the UK parliament, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), and the parliaments in Africa to work together to prevent the potential impact of the current insecurity in parts of the continent in order to give growth and development a chance in Africa.
The two were speaking during a private meeting at the UK parliament in Westminster, London, where Mr Bagbin had led a parliamentary delegation to discuss various areas of cooperation and collaboration.
The two parliaments discussed how to conduct parliamentary business effectively, manage hung parliaments and narrow majorities; make parliamentary scrutiny and oversight more efficient; and promote a collaborative work environment in parliament.
Mr Bagbin said resolving the security situation in the Sahel region deserves a lot more attention now, or else it could engulf the entire sub-region.
He referred to the current security situation in Burkina Faso and Togo and said the safety and protection of the citizens in the two countries appear to have been compromised due to what is believed to be a huge infiltration by extremists and other elements.
He said the situation in the Sahel and in West Africa poses serious threats to Ghana’s security and democracy.
What is required is the right strategies and structures that will make Ghana proactive and preemptive when it comes to security and the integrity of her borders.
The Speaker commended Lord Boateng for his outstanding public work in the United Kingdom and said he has continued to be a great ambassador of Ghana in all his work outside the country.
Lord Boateng said such conflicts, as in Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Mali, among others, have the potential to fuel migration and its attendant dangers and risks, hence the concern.
He added that if steps are not taken to mitigate these conflicts, they will deal irreparable damage to Africa and hold the continent back.
He indicated that the UK was looking to use the framework of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and also work through other institutional arrangements to enhance trade with Ghana and with other African countries, and to support efforts at improving intra-continental trade.
On this journey, he said, the removal of trade barriers, especially non-tariff barriers within Africa, and between Africa and Europe will be very critical. Also important will be the safety and security of the countries in Africa.
Lord Boateng was impressed with the relationship between Ghana and the United Kingdom and was optimistic that it will continue to grow from strength to strength.
The Speaker was accompanied to the meeting by the Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah, the Assistant Deputy Clerk, Mr. Ebenezer Djietror, Legal Counsel to the Speaker, Hon. Magnus Kofi Amoatey, the Director of Communication of the Speaker’s Secretariat, Mr. Gayheart Mensah and the Deputy Director of Parliamentary Relations, Mr. Charles Dery Tenzagh.