Kenya VP roots for integration

May 19, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is urging Kenyans to buy into the idea of regional integration saying it is Africa’s safest bet of fighting the global economic recession.

Speaking during the opening of the African Employer’s Forum, Mr Musyoka said integration was a sure way of bolstering trade in the region.

“African countries should liaise closely with one another and the private sector to take quick, decisive and systematic measures to ensure credit crunches and bank collapses are avoided,” the VP said.

He added that the recent dispute with Uganda over Migingo Island should not be taken as a yard stick to measure success or failure of regional integration.

“There will always be differences between partners but we should look at the end result where countries are set to benefit from the union,” Mr Musyoka said.

Also speaking during the conference, Thabo Makeka, president of Pan African Employer’s Confederation said it was time for Africa to stop blaming the crisis on other quarters but instead concentrate on finding solutions.

“We all know where the crisis came from. It would be prudent if we didn’t look to them for solutions but instead find solutions to our unique challenges,” Mr Makeka said.

David Govere from Zimbabwe read from the same script as the Vice President when he called on African leaders to borrow a leaf from Asia and South America.

“Asia and South America have been able to reduce dependency on foreign aid by consolidating their markets and trading with one another,” he said.

Wiseman Nkhulu, President of the International Organisation of Employers urged African countries not to undermine international relations forged over the years and accept assistance when they feel the integrity of their nation is not undermined.

Mr Nkhulu added that the focus in medium to long term was to strengthen African economies arguing that this was not the last recession. According to him the answer lies in private sector development and infrastructural development.

“If Africa is going is going to be competitive and secure in the future the issue of infrastructure development and having a vibrant private sector become central to any plans leaders may have,” he said.

Charles Dan, regional director for the International Labour Organisation, said Africa systemic crisis calling for structural responses

“We need a development paradigm shift where we promote social economy like cooperatives and community based initiatives which will mean more confidence in African capacities and boost intra African trade,” Mr Dan said.

He also stressed the importance of SME’s saying they played a critical role in economic recovery.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli appealed to employers through Federation of Kenyan Employers to result to retrenchment as a last result of dealing with the financial crisis.

“I appeal to employers not to use the dwindling economy to lay off workers,” said Mr Atwoli.

The two-day forum whose theme is “The Financial Crisis, Economic Recovery and Employment in Africa”, brings together participants from across the continent and will be charged with the responsibility of finding ways to cushioning Africa from further effects of the economic down turn.

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