REMARKS BY ALEXANDER KWAMENA AFENYO-MARKIN, MP FOR EFFUTU AND LEADER OF GHANA’S DELEGATION TO THE ECOWAS PARLIAMENT AT THE OPENING OF THE DELOCALISED MEETING OF THE ECOWAS PARLIAMENT IN WINNEBA
Right Honourable Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana
Right Honourable Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament
The Secretary-General of the ECOWAS Parliament
Ministers of State
Colleague Members of the ECOWAS Parliament
Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of Ghana’s Delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria, let me welcome all of you to my Constituency, Effutu, for the July 2021 Delocalised Meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament. I am truly honoured to be your host over the next few days as we work conscientiously and diligently as lawmakers from across West Africa to help improve the quality of life of our people.
Indeed, we are meeting here face to face to hold very critical discussions relating to two main themes ––– telecommunication and regional security. The appropriateness of these vital themes cannot be overemphasised, considering the significance of technology in today’s world and the security and safety issues that continue to undermine development in many parts of West Africa and beyond. Ladies and Gentlemen, please permit me to highlight a few of these issues. I will first touch briefly on technology and later turn my attention to security.
As we all know, we live in the age of revolutionary Telecommunication and Information Technology. This is the age where doctors perform invasive but critical life-saving surgeries remotely with the aid of high-speed internet, computers and advanced medical tools, equipment and gadgets. This is the period where advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have made it possible for some countries to deploy Robots, instead of human judges, to make accurate and binding judicial decisions in the Courtroom.
Indeed, this is the age where Telecommunication and Information Technology is making it possible for billionaires to travel to space for holiday. Ridiculous as this might sound, it is still valid. In the parts of the world where the true potential of telecommunications and Information Technology is being harnessed, citizens have easy access to computers and the internet. For example, in the U.S, 87 per cent of individuals have access to a computer in their households. The figure in Finland is 93 per cent. In these two countries, over 85 per cent and more than 89 per cent of people have access to the internet.
Yet, the story across Africa is troubling. For example, in 2019, only 7.7 per cent of households on the continent of Africa were estimated to have a computer at home. The figure tallied with the result for 2018. In many ways, the evidence is around us in our respective countries. Our school children rarely use computers, and in many schools, pupils learn about computers without the benefit of neither seeing nor operating them.
Similarly, access to the internet is still a major challenge across Africa. Figures show that there were more than 3.8 billion mobile internet subscribers globally, representing 49% of the world’s population. However, mobile internet adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2019 stood at 26%. Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost half of the global population not served by a mobile broadband network.
In the area of security, it is evident to all of us that the activities of terror organisations continue to create a huge sense of insecurity in some parts of the region. The situation is worsened by the rising spate of pirate attacks on ships travelling along the West African Coast. These worrying developments demand robust action by national governments and regional institutions, including the ECOWAS Parliament, to help citizens feel safe. I hope that the discussions over the next two days at this critical meeting will help get West Africa closer to finding sustainable solutions to the common problems we face in the areas mentioned above.
Before bringing my remarks to a close, let me once again welcome all of you to the historic city of Winneba. Please permit me to use the opportunity to thank the entirety of the ECOWAS Parliament for the decision to make Winneba host this important meeting. Given the careful planning that has gone into this, and with God on our side, Winneba will play its part as an excellent host for all of you, and we will stand ready to welcome you back in September.