MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, we have no formal communi- cation from the President and the Hon Speaker has no Statement. So we move straight to item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Yes, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, on page 13, Committee on Mines and Energy, item numbered 2 -- Attendance. It is quite unfortunate and maybe, it is the secretariat that should have submitted the full list of Hon Members who were present but I remember Hon John Jinapor and Hon Bawah were at the meeting.
Hon Member, we are on page 13 and those names are on page 14 of the Votes and Proceedings.
Mr Speaker, very well. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Forgive me for taking us back to page 8 which has the list of Hon Members absent from yesterday's Sitting.
Hon Members, page 8. Yes?
Mr Speaker, number 14 -- Dery, Edward Kaale-ewola was present yesterday and he is the Hon Vice- Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that is sitting as we speak today. Same applies to number 27 -- Quashigah, Richard Mawuli Kwaku and also Okyere- Agyekum, Kofi who is the Hon Ranking Member of the same Committee on number 22 -- Mr Speaker, these three Hon Members are Members of the PAC and were in the sitting and are currently at the sitting. I am also an Hon Member of the Committee.
Well, the Table Office should take note of this. So, Hon Members -- Yes?
Mr Speaker, it seems the entire proceedings on the PAC is not captured in the Votes and Proceedings. If they sat yesterday, then --
Yes, it is possible that they submitted the Report late to the Table Office, so it will be captured in the next Votes and Proceedings. You know that this raises the - I do not know how we will solve this problem of the Table Office identifying people on the floor and making sure that they are captured as having attended the proceedings. I believe the new Standing Orders will fill in that gap. We will need to have roll calls on daily basis and that would definitely get not just the presence, but at least, the sight of the Hon Member, so, they could easily identify that an Hon Member is present for it to be captured in the Votes and Proceedings of the following day. That is what the practice would be and that had been the practice of mature Parliaments, so I believe it is a good one to adopt. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I heard you say that there would be roll calls. I hope that the process would also involve capturing all Committees programmed for the day. For example, I see a lot of Hon Members of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism who have not been captured in yesterday's Votes and Proceedings. I know for a fact that the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism was in the Tema enclave the whole of yesterday. We left at 10.00 a.m. and returned in the evening. So as we discuss how everybody is captured, I believe it is important that on a daily basis, we know from all the Committees, the work for the particular day and how many Hon Members attended, so that they could all be captured in that process.
Hon Member, your point has been noted, however, we are now dealing with the correction of Votes and Proceedings. When we get to other matters after the corrections or submission of same, you could raise these issues. So, let us look at page 15, 16. Hon Members, in the absence of any further corrections, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018 are adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we do not have any Official Report for today, so we would move on to item numbered 3 on the Order Paper. Mr Edward Kaale-ewola Dery -- rose
Yes, Hon Member?
I thank you, Mr Speaker. I still have an issue with attendance in the House. A Majority side of 169 comes to sit here with less than 15 Hon Members and asks of us to conduct Government Business. I believe it is about time we raised serious concerns about the attendance, particularly, on their side of the House. [Interruptions] -- That is their business anyway. If they do not want us to do it then we would start raising issues of quorum and stop doing it. We cannot have 169 Hon Members of the Majority and only 15 Hon Members would be here for us to conduct Government Business. That is unfair.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate the concern raised by my Hon Colleague from the other side of the House. I am sure attendance in this House had been an issue we had all complained about. But Mr Speaker, today is a very special day, or I would call it a sad day. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Minority Chief Whip, the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Deputy Majority Leader are all out of this House. That does not mean that Business in this House is not important. It is very important and that is why we are here to conduct it. Unfortunately, we all know that most of our Members also have to attend this funeral. So, it is a concern and we agree that we need to do more to make sure that Hon Members attend to the Business of the House. So, I appreciate their concerns. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Well, Hon Members, this is a very worrying issue which had been raised many times by Hon Members themselves. I am sure that Hon Members have noted it and would comply accordingly. But as of now, the House is properly constituted and would go on with its Business until otherwise decided. So we would move on to item numbered 3 -- Business Statement for the Third Week. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Business Committee?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker -- Mr Speaker, you may read commu- nications to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has programmed the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the week: No. of Question(s) i. Minister for Transport -- 1 ii. Minister for the Interior -- 2 iii. Minister for Health -- 5 iv. Minister responsible for the National Identification Authority -- 1 v. Minister for Finance -- 1 vi. Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection -- 1 vii. Minister for Special Development Initiatives -- 1 viii. Minister for Roads and Highways -- 5 Total Number of Questions 17 Mr Speaker, eight (8) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to seventeen (17) Questions during the week. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by the Rt. Hon. Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and Committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Briefing by National Identification Authority Mr Speaker, the Business Committee notifies all Hon Members that the National Identification Authority (NIA) has proposed to brief Parliament on the rollout plan for the National Identity Card. The House is therefore expected to sit in Committee of the Whole to grant audience to officials of the NIA on Thursday, 31st May 2018, after adjournment, in the Chamber. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under consi- deration. Questions *365. Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza (Adaklu): To ask the Minister for Transport what circumstances led to the expiry of warranties on some critical hospital equipment at the newly built Port Hospital at Tema. *367. Mr Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah (Keta): To ask the Minister for the Interior how many persons were admitted into the Immigration Service in 2016 following the advertisement for which one hundred Ghana cedis was paid by each applicant to the Service. *368. Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah (Ho West): To ask the Minister for the Interior the status of Police investigations of the whereabouts of Mr George Kormla Ackorley, from Saviefe Deme in the Ho West District, who went missing during the annual SASADU Celebration on 25th November 2017 at Alavanyo in the Hohoe Municipality. Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- (a) Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. (b) Reconciliation Report on the Petroleum Holding Fund for the year 2017. Motions -- Second Reading of Bills Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. Committee sittings Questions -- *332. Mr Alexander Roosevelt Hottordze (Central Tongu): To ask the Minister for Health what measures are being put in place to upgrade Mafi- Kumase Health Centre, which has a large catchment area, to a Polyclinic. *355. Dr Mark Kurt Nawaane (Nabdam): To ask the Minister for Health when district hospital services will be provided in the Nabdam District. *356. Mr Derek Ohene Assifo Bekoe (Upper West Akim): To ask the Minister for Health when the Health Centre at Adeiso, the capital of Upper West Akim District will be upgraded to a hospital status. *357. Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah (Ho West): To ask the Minister for Health when the Tsito-Awudome Health Centre will be upgraded to polyclinic status. *358. Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah (Ho West): To ask the Minister for Health when the Kpedze Health Centre will be upgraded to a District Hospital status. Statements -- Motions -- Second Reading of Bills -- Right to Information Bill, 2018. Committee sittings -- Thursday, 31st May 2018 -- Questions -- *331. Mr Daniel Kwesi Ashiamah (Buem): To ask the Minister responsible for the National Identification Authority the detailed time-table for the rollout of Ghana Card acquisition nationwide. *347. Mr Yusif Sulemana (Bole/ Bamboi): To ask the Minister for Finance how many restricted and sole sourcing Government contracts have been awarded from between January 2017 and November 2017, and under what circumstances. *352. Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (Asawase): To ask the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection what steps the Ministry is taking to ensure that the WAEC building in Kumasi is disability friendly. Statements -- Consideration Stage of Bills -- Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. Committee sittings--- Committee of the Whole to be briefed by the National Identifi- cation Authority on the rollout plan for the National Identity Card. Questions -- *304. Mr Mohammed Abdul-Aziz (Mion): To ask the Minister for Special Development Initiatives when government will release the cedi equivalent of one million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00) to the 275 constituencies as captured in the 2017 Budget Statement. *343. Mr Christian Corletey Otuteye (Sege): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways how soon the road from Ningo Prampram to Anyamam will be completed. *344. Mr Twumasi Kwame Ampofo (Sene West): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways what plans the Ministry has put in place to construct the Atebubu - Kwame Danso road and feeder roads such as Kwame Danso - Akyeremade Battor, Kwame Danso - Konkonse, K y e a m e k r o m - C h a b a b a , Kyeamekrom - Tatto Bator, Menkor - Todaykope and Shafa - Dogondage. *345. Mr Muhammad Bawah Braimah (Ejura-Sekyedumase): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the 10km asphalt overlay commenced in 2016 on the Ejura town roads will be continued and completed. *359. Mr Albert Akuka Alalzuuga (Garu): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways the steps the Ministry is taking to construct the third phase of the Eastern Corridor Road stretching from Nakpanduri through Garu to Kulungungu.
Hon Members, the Business Statement has been presented to the House. Are there any comments? Yes, Hon Quashigah?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I have observed that I am expected to ask a Question on Tuesday and this was a Question that I filed sometime last year. Mr Speaker, I however want to humbly request that this Question be stood down for a later time because I would be out of the jurisdiction at the time I would be expected to ask.
Hon Member, but the Question is not before us yet. It is the Business Statement that is before us, so you have given the notice to the House and the Committee not to schedule the Question for that day. That would be noted but you may have to re- submit it for consideration, because you have stated that you filed it last year. So, you have to re-submit it for consideration by the Speaker, and if it is admitted then it would be rescheduled by the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I hope it is permissible for me to arrange with another Hon Member to ask the Question on my behalf during my absence.
Yes, that is following the due process. Yes, Hon Edward Dery?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, when the Business Statement was presented last week, I raised an issue that I had filed a Question earlier which had to do with the Wa Airstrip and Ccommercial activities. Mr Speaker, I was told that it was not part of the programme for last week, but it would be programmed this week hopefully. Mr Speaker, looking at the 17 Questions that have been listed here I did not find my Question to be part, so I would want to find out from the Hon Majority Leader if my Question would be programmed going forward or next week. Thank you.
Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
Mr Speaker, there is one important issue that I believe the House must make room for on the Business Statement. On Thursday, 22nd March, 2018, this House approved the Formula for sharing the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF). In giving the approval under column 2965 of the Official Report -- MMDAs Alloca- tion -- Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: “The Committee was happy to observe that the Government's policy objective to redirect at least 50 per cent of the DACF to MMDAs directly had been fulfilled. It was noted that, a total of [GH¢964, 973,315.00 representing] 53.25 per cent would be disbursed directly to the Assemblies.” Mr Speaker, what is happening nowadays in the District Assemblies is that, there is another redirection besides the policy and approval that had been given by this House. Therefore I am making the application, that if the House would permit, then we should invite the Administrator for the District Assemblies Common Fund and the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to appear before a Committee of the Whole to justify whether it is true that 80 per cent of the DACF would be taken from the Assemblies and redirected to the centre. If it is so, then what is the justification behind that? If not, then, who gave that policy and what is the rationale behind it? Mr Speaker, so I am making an application that we should create a space for it because, this is House of Parliament and some political parties are issuing statements on it and organising press conferences on this issue. Mr Speaker, we are the ones representing the people and if there is a major shift in policy, then I believe it must be known by the peoples' representatives. Mr Speaker, this is my humble application, and if this could happen on Wednesday, then I would be most grateful. Mr Speaker, I respectfully submit.
Hon Member for Effutu?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, our Constitution under article 103 (3) provides and I beg to quote; “Committees of Parliament shall be charged with such functions, including the investigation and inquiry into the activities and administration of ministries and departments as Parliament may determine; and such investigation and inquiries may extend to proposals for legislation.” Mr Speaker, fortified by what I have just read, I would like to seek your guidance on whether or not a Committee of Parliament relying on this constitutional provision could suo motu take up any matter in the public interest, and if such a matter, when the Committee so deliberates on could be reported upon? Mr Speaker, I say so because, looking at the arrangement of Business for the ensuing week, I could read Statements and the Hon Member who spoke before me for instance made reference to the need to invite the Administrator for the DACF and even the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to brief this House on whether or not there is a policy shift in a matter happening at the District Assemblies. Mr Speaker, my concern is that, an issue like this and in line with my question which seeks your guidance, could your Committee suo motu take the matter up? Mr Speaker, this is because as Hon Members of Parliament, as we go around, a lot of things happen on radio which may not find space on Mr Speaker's Table for direction. Mr Speaker, although I am aware that our Standing Orders talks about referrals to the Committees. I would want to know what your guidance would be. Mr Speaker, this is because, quite recently, we also heard of the clashes between the Police and the Military in
Hon Ras Mubarak?
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful. Mr Speaker, I have two issues. The first is an Urgent Question I filed in respect of the Kelni GVG issue. It has not found expression in the Business Statement for next week, and I wonder whether there are specific timelines within which Urgent Questions should be addressed. Mr Speaker, secondly, when you took the Chair, you indicated that there was no communication to or for the Rt Hon Speaker. But we heard this morning that one of our Hon Colleagues has been picked up by the Police, and I am wondering on what authority would the Police invite or pick up a Member of Parliament without recourse to the Speaker of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Yes, let me allow Hon Ablakwa first.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity. I would want to commend the Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip for presenting the Business Statement for the week ending Friday, 1st June, 2018. Mr Speaker, I see that on Thursday, there is programmed a Committee of the Whole meeting for briefing by the National Identification Authority on the rolled out plan for the National Identity Card. Mr Speaker, I would want to respectfully and humbly make an appeal to your good Office whether we could include another agenda to this meeting, which should be the matter which has engaged the attention of the whole country; the Kelni GVG matter which Hon Ras Mubarak just spoke about. I wonder whether the Hon Minister for Communications cannot be programmed to appear before us in the ensuing week. Mr Speaker, this is because, out there, the national debate is that, it appears that Parliament is not being proactive. Civil Society Organisations ask why Parliament had been silent in this whole matter and it is really raging on and on. This morning, apart from the Anas Aremeyaw Anas exposé, it is the biggest matter which is being discussed and I know that the Hon Ministers have been quite active in the media. This morning, I listened to the Hon George Andah move from one station to the other. At least, I listened to him on three stations, but this is not a matter that could be resolved in the media. Parliament would have to carry out its oversight responsibility to the extent, else the public begin to get the impression that, perhaps we are either not being interested or we are abdicating. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would want to ask that this House considers programming the Hon Minister for Communications to brief this House, so that we can have clarity on what is going on, and if there are any consequential orders that you might want the Hon Minister to brief this House on, then Parliament could take it up, and we would be seen carrying out our oversight responsibilities. Mr Speaker, I am sure that tights in perfectly with the concerns that the Hon Afenyo-Markin raised on how com- mittees should work; whether committees could on their own take up some of these matters or it has to be raised here first. This is because, it would appear that we are not seen to be as proactive as we should be. So Mr Speaker, this is a very important national issue of enormous national interest, and I would plead with you that the Hon Minister for Communications be programmed for the ensuing week so that, we could get an understanding of exactly what is happening with this US$90 million Kelni GVG contract. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Let me allow others too to be heard. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I just would want to react to the last statement by my Hon Colleague.
Hon Member, it is not yet time for you to react to those statements. I believe it is being noted down by the Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip who presented the Business Statement, so he would be given the opportunity to react. If there is a need for any additional information, that would then come up later. So, please, let us go on with it first and listen to the Hon Kwame Agbodza.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make few comments about the Business Statement as presented by the Hon Deputy Majority Whip. Mr Speaker, the first comment I would want to make is about the need for Leadership to find space and expression on the Business Statement on one of these days to brief Hon Members on some ongoing activities around Parliament. Mr Speaker, if you live in the Job 600, you would notice some level of heightened noise related to construction works. We need to be briefed on what is going on, and how long that would take, and if there are some health and safety measures Hon Members should take in line with that to make sure we are all safe. So I think Leadership must appropriately brief Hon Members on what is going on and the health and safety measures we must take with regard to the heightened construction works on the compound. Mr Speaker, the second one is an ongoing issue. We are almost halfway through the life of this Parliament. Hon Members of Parliament have been told we would be given special assistants. The
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity again. I rise in support of the call by my respected Colleague, Hon Ablakwa, for the Ministry of Communication to be programmed to brief this House on the issue regarding the Kelni GVG. Mr Speaker, the reason being that --
Hon Member, you do not need to rise in support of that request. This is because your Leader is there to respond to it. Hon Members, please, this is Business Statement, which was presented by Leadership. So the issues that are being raised would be responded to by the person who presented the Report, which was ably presented by the Hon Deputy Majority Whip, for and on behalf of the Majority Leader. So you do not need to belabour the point of stressing what others have said. Let us listen to him first. If there is the need for anybody to disagree with the position he is going to take, then we can permit you to add your piece of wisdom to the House. So, please, let us listen to the Hon Deputy Majority Whip.
Mr Speaker, I would start from what you just ended on. According to the Hon Deputy Minister for Communication, they have programmed to brief the Committee on Communication on Tuesday 29th May on the happenings. So that would satisfy the House for now. [Interruption.] The Committee is a Committee of this House, representing the House. So if the Hon Minister for Communication would schedule a meeting with the Committee and brief them appropriately, I do not think we should have any problem with that. That is the information I have. Mr Speaker, Hon Richard Quashigah has also indicated that he would ask somebody to ask the Question on his behalf. So that one is answered. Mr Speaker, Hon Edward Dery also complained about his Question that had not been filed. According to Standing Order 66, it is the Speaker who admits Questions. So I plead that Hon Edward Dery gets close to the Table Office and if the Question is admitted, we would programme it for the Minister to come and answer. Same to my good friend, Hon Mubarak, on his Question. Mr Speaker, Hon Kwame Agbodza complained about works that are ongoing and the House would want briefing from the Leadership. We would take it on board and then programme for them to come and brief us. Mr Speaker, the second issue is about our research assistants. We are almost there. The last time we met as Leadership and the Speaker, it was clear that they would recruit research assistants and I am very sure that by the close of next week, we should give you concrete answers. The Clerk is here. It is a promise and an assurance as well. Mr Speaker, the issue is that there is a clear-cut standard or criteria that we are looking at. So people whose names were presented by Hon Members but are below the standard would not be considered. So if any Hon Member presented the name of somebody below the standard, then he or she would need to re-submit a different person. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Minority Whip, also talked about programming the Common Fund Administrator to appear before the House. He is one of us and I am sure that in our next Business Committee meeting, we would look at it. Mr Speaker, now ̧we would all want to take some guidance just as they asked, about what happened to our Colleague this morning. That is a rumour anyway, that a Colleague of ours has been invited by the Police and we all know that -- I do not want to say that we are above the law. Nobody is above the law but we all know how, or the processes they have to take to invite a Member of Parliament to appear before the Police. So, Mr Speaker, we all want your guidance on that particular issue. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the answers provided by my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Majority Whip, except to say that last week the Majority Leader made it very clear in his answers to me that this week; they would programme my Question but it is not there. It is not about me going to the Rt Hon Speaker again. Once he said that they would programme my Question this week -- I do not know. Unless they are now telling me to go back to the Rt Hon Speaker and file a new Question. But what I heard last week was that I would be programmed this week. So if they are asking me to file a new Question -- I do not know. I would take his direction anyway. What I know is that my Question should have been programmed this week. So it is different from his answer. He should let me know which one I should go by.
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect to the Hon Deputy Majority Whip on the issue of the Hon Minister for Communication having to meet the Committee. I am of the view that it is important for the Minister to appear before the House and make a Statement on the issues that agitate our minds. Mr Speaker, it is on record that for the same services under the previous regime, Afriwave was being paid US$1.5 million a month, SUBAH was being paid US$1 million a month and under this new dispensation it is even cheaper at US$1.4 million --
Hon Member, once you have agreed and requested that the Hon Minister should appear before the House to brief it on the issue, you cannot substitute yourself for the Hon Minister. You know you are not. So let us move on.
Mr Speaker, in moving on, I thank you. Mr Speaker, whenever you correct us, we take a cue, except to say that because Hon Ablakwa said that too many things are being said in the media and this is House of Parliament. So all those things being said in the media about a cheaper way of doing things should be said here. I agree with you. I agree that the new cost which is lower than before, when we paid more but now it is 44 per cent --
Hon Member, you are a very experienced lawyer.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue.
The source of the information is very important so, let us move on.
Mr Speaker, in my application before you, I did not pass any value judgement. I am keeping an open mind. I said that there is so much out there. It is a national debate going on and people are questioning the oversight responsibilities of Parliament and we all know that under Standing Order 70 (2), which reads and I beg to quote; “A Minister of State may make an announcement or a statement of government policy. Any such announcement or statement should be limited to the facts which it is deemed necessary to make known to the House and should not be designed to provoke debate at this stage. Any Member may comment briefly, subject to the same limitation”. So I was proceeding under order 70 (2), that we invite the Hon Minister for Communications to make a statement on the facts. After we have heard her, then we can go into what is presented. The Speaker could refer to the Committee or there could be other consequential orders, but at this stage, let us all keep an open mind. Let us be fair. Let us not make prejudicial comments. Hon Afenyo-Markin, please, at this stage, we are not interested in any partisan debate. This is a matter of national interest. Civil society organisations have raised concerns. We do not know the facts. We are not seized with the facts. So we are only applying to the Hon Speaker that the Hon Minister for Communications, Hon Ursula Owusu, be programmed to appear before us next week. After we have heard her, then we can begin to pass value judgments on the facts. Mr Speaker, we do not agree that her appearance on the 29th at the Committee would suffice. The Committee can go on with its work, but really, Mr Speaker has not made any referral to the Committee as we speak. We do not know the circumstances under which the Hon Minister is going to meet the Committee. We do not know whether there would even be a report in plenary after the Committee has met. It is their own arrangement, and committees meet with their sector ministers every now and then. It could just be a courtesy call on the Ministry or the usual regular interaction, which may not come before us as a House. So, we just want the records to reflect that this House has taken interest in this matter, and that we want the Hon Minister for Communications to come and brief the House, and that this is a matter that Parliament is now taking interest in as an institution mandated by our Constitution to carry out oversight over the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAS) of the Executive. So that is our application before the Speaker, and we plead with you, that the Committee meeting can go on, it happens always. But this is such a crucial matter that we cannot just be ambivalent about it.
Please, let us listen to your Leader, the Hon Deputy Minority Whip.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. I would like to refer the House to Standing Order 161 (1): “The recommendations of a Committee shall be presented to the House in the form of a report”. Mr Speaker, I am quoting this Order and to seek your guidance on it. Some Hon Members are suggesting that the Hon Minister meets the Committee even though there is no referral to the Committee, and when you go to Order 197, it says that the scope of deliberations of a committee shall be confined to only referral to the committee. In this case there is no referral, because the issue is not before the House. Mr Speaker, some Hon Members are now suggesting that we should allow the Hon Minister because she has already scheduled to meet with only the Committee. Mr Speaker, when the Hon Minister meets the Committee on Tuesday, per Standing Order 161, is the Committee obliged to present a report to the House, even though there was no referral from the floor of anything to the Committee? That is my question. Mr Speaker, secondly, the matter is of urgent public importance. Some Hon Members are talking of statements. There are speculations here and there, so if now the House is saying that the Hon Minister would be available on Tuesday, she wants to meet the Committee — the Committee is a subset of this House. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minister is available on Tuesday, what prevents the Hon Minister from meeting the entire House? And if after that there is the need for the Hon Speaker to give directives for the Committee on Communications to embark on investigations into the matter, and the Hon Speaker so directs, then the Committee embarks on investigations and presents an official report to the House. Mr Speaker, I believe the call for the Hon Minister to meet the House is a very germane call and must therefore be admitted. Mr Speaker, thirdly, there are two matters. The second one was in response to the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development together with the Administrator. Mr Speaker, that one too I quoted the Act, and it is very important that the House becomes proactive. Everybody expects much from us. To whom much is given, much is expected.
Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip? After that I would let the House know my views, and I would give the consequential directives, and we would move on.
Mr Speaker, the President promised this country that we are going to protect the public purse, and as a government -- [Interruption.] Hon Fuseini, this is the front bench, and there should be discipline.
Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip, please address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, like I said, this Government would hide nothing from the public. The NPP Akufo-Addo led Government would not hide anything, and we are prepared to protect the public purse. Mr Speaker -- Mr Ahmed Ibrahim — rose —
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague is on his feet. Let us listen to him.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague was asking why Hon A.B. A. Fuseini was here. Hon A.B. A. Fuseini is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Communication, and he came to tell me that the Hon Minister did not request to meet the Committee. It is rather the leadership of the Committee that has written to the Hon Minister to appear before it on Tuesday. So, he was correcting the information you gave, that the Hon Minister said she was coming to meet the Committee. It is the Committee that is requesting to meet the Hon Minister, and that is what the Hon Ranking Member came to clarify. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I believe my Hon Colleague has not added anything. Whether they wrote to the Hon Minister or the Hon Minister invited them, in whichever case, they are going to have a meeting on Tuesday. Mr Speaker, like my Hon Colleague was saying, it should be a referral. This is an issue that is currently on the floor, you could refer to confirm whatever arrangement that the Hon Minister has with the Committee.
“The Committee of Communication shall consist of eighteen members to which shall be referred matters relating to communications generally”. This includes both the Majority and the Minority. That tells you we have nothing to hide. Mr Speaker, the issue about them coming here or them arranging to meet the Committee, we seek your guidance. The Committee is still seized with all the powers of this House to deal with matters relating to this House, so we have nothing to hide.
“The Chairman of the Business Committee may make supple- mentary statements whenever the Committee so decides”. Mr Speaker, so, we could still programme the Hon Minister for Communications to appear before the Committee of the Whole. Mr Speaker, we are not running away from it, but I believe that on a humble appeal, since the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee has written officially to the --[Interruption]-- If they had written officially to the Hon Minister and the Hon Minister agreed to appear before them on the 29th, I think that you would confirm this and then, from their meeting, they would report back to the House. Mr Speaker, thank you very much. 11. 42 a.m.
Hon Members, I believe it is appropriate to call on the Hon Minister for Communications to appear before the whole House to give a brief on this issue. [Hear! Hear!] -- It has gained a lot of currency in public discourse, and as the Hon Deputy Majority Whip said, there is nothing to hide. It is important that this be brought to the knowledge of the people of this country through their representatives on the floor of the House. I do not think the Committee should rather take it up. This is because we have not yet developed the rules for committees to be opened to the general public. So, it is proper that she appears before the House to give a brief. That is the instrument that the House has decided to use and I will so direct, that the Business Committee should schedule the Hon Minister to appear before the House any appropriate day next week to brief it on this matter. With regard to the Administrator of the District Assemblies' Common Fund, again, I believe it is important that the Administrator should come before the House, but in this case, as a Committee of the Whole to brief the House. This is because it is the House that approved the formula and if there is any information to the contrary, then, the Administrator is properly called upon to come and tell the House why they are so different from what had been approved by the House. It may be that, that might not be the case. Whatever the situation, the House would be briefed and it would be in the proper position to inform the general public so that we could get the buy-in of the general public to be able to implement Government policies. So, I so direct that the Business Committee should also schedule the Administrator of the District Assemblies' Common Fund to appear before the Committee of the Whole to brief the House on this matter. With regard to the other issues, I want to urge Hon Members to go through the normal communication channels which we
Mr Speaker, about the Hon Colleague who is alleged to have been invited or arrested, the information available to me now is that he has been invited sometime next week and I am sure the due process would be followed. That is the information available to me as of now.
Hon Members, let us listen to him.
Mr Speaker, I believe we had a meeting -- during the last meeting we had at Leadership level, I believe it was clear. The Clerk to Parliament was told to go ahead and recruit those who submitted -- [Interruption.]
Hon Member, you would please address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, it was said that those who met the standard should go ahead. Unfortunately, it is still true that some other Hon Colleagues submitted people who did not meet the criteria, that is what I know, Mr Speaker. —-[Pause].
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Deputy Majority Whip is completely misleading us. He just made the statement that a lot of Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) have brought people who are not qualified. But the fact of the matter is that the whole programme has not started. Nobody has been given any employment letter and that is what he should say. If he does not have the information, he should simply say that he would go back and find out. But to create the impression that somebody has really and officially received an appointment letter is neither here nor there - It is not correct.
Hon Members, we have business today. We have Public Business. What we are still doing is private business. So, I would want us to move on to Public Business. Mr E. K. Dery — rose -
Hon Dery, you are still insisting? Yes?
Mr Speaker, with the issue of this standard, we are setting a very bad precedent to the rest of the institutions. We are Hon Members of Parliament; politicians for that matter. The Hon Member is telling us that anybody who would work in our office should hold a
Hon Members, let me remind you once more that your ability to catch the eye of the Rt.Hon Speaker includes good behaviour. [Laughter!] I am reminding you. [Pause.] Leadership, I would want to advise that you take this issue of the recruitment of Research Assistants seriously. These are permanent to the Members of Parliament (MPs); they are not employees of the Parliamentary Service of Ghana. So depending on how long the Hon Member stays here, the Research Assistants would also be part of the House but subject to good behaviour. Also, I may, in this case quote, “the whims and caprices” of the Members of Parliament (MP). So they are personal staff and I think we should look at it. Research in Parliament does not only deal with academic research. We are talking about a political being; a representative -- a partisan character. So a lot of things come to play here. There should not be too much emphasis on academic research. The academic research officers are recruited into the Research Department of Parliament. But a Research Assistant could run partisan matters for an Hon Member of Parliament. This is done all over the world. [Hear! Hear!] I am giving you guidance so that you would expedite this matter. It has been on for over two years now and it is known by the public that we have Research Assistants; meanwhile we have none. So please let us draw the curtain to this matter. I would want us to move on to Public Business. We have a number of Statements and we have some Papers to be laid, and if possible, debate one or two Motions. But you know we are also expected to be somewhere this afternoon. So please, I would want to crave your indulgence as Members of Parliament (MPs) to hold your fire for today. We still have more days next week so that we would continue with the business. Do I have the sense of the House that we should go on?
Thank you very much. So we move on to --
Mr Speaker, has the Business Statement been adopted already? I went out for a brief moment. [Interruption.] Yes, I left and I would want to be sure so that if it has been adopted already --
Hon Members, the Business Statement as presented is accordingly adopted. — [Pause] Hon Deputy Majority Whip, do we have the Hon Minister for Commu- nications available?
Mr Speaker, with your permission and the leave of the House, the Hon Minister for Communications is out of the country. But we have a Colleague of ours, very able to deal with the Questions.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
Mr Speaker, once my Colleague is saying the Hon Minister is out of the country --
Do you want to respond to that?
Mr Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of my Hon Colleague to the other side because there are a lot of Hon Ministers seated there. So they can see that it is not all of them who are out of the country. It is for the good of this country that they sometimes travel; it is not all the time.
Mr Speaker, we have no problem; the Hon Deputy Minister could go ahead to respond to the Questions.
Hon Members, I would permit the Hon Deputy Minister for Communications to respond to the Questions filed on the Order Paper. The first Question stands in the name of the Hon Member for Kumbungu. Hon Member, you may now ask your Question.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS
i.Establishment of re-engineered and automated digital addressing system which is critical for effective imple- mentation of national identifi- cation and address referencing database.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the response of the Hon Deputy Minister. Could the Hon Deputy Minister tell the House if he is aware that the company that won the bid for the application has a different application running under a different name? If he is not aware, would he be kind to investigate and furnish this House with key findings of his investigations?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member, I believe, is referring to the AsaaseGPS application. Is that right? Mr Speaker, I would just want to find out whether that is the application he talked about; the application that is running in parallel --
Mr Speaker, yes, that is right.
Mr Speaker, AsaaseGPS is generic --
Hon Deputy Minister, usually, after your submissions, you should put off your microphone. If not, you shut me off and I cannot communicate. That is why you have been talking to each other without my intervention. This is because I should admit the question before you answer it, but I could not communicate. You may go on; next time, just put it off so that I can assist.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, AsaaseGPS is the generic solution. The NDPAS is licensed for use in Ghana. So we are working with the NDPAS, which Vokacom has developed specifically for Ghana. As far as AsaaseGPS is concerned, we have had discussions with Vokacom and agreed that they should shut down AssaseGPS as far as the Ghanaian market is concerned.
Yes, Hon Member, your second supplementary question.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister tell the House if the NDPAS is the same as the Google Global Positioning System (GPS) and if not, what are the differences?
Mr Speaker, I think all Hon Members of the House should not confuse GPS with NDPAS. The GPS component of the NDPAS is just the navigation
Yes, your last supplementary question?
Mr Speaker, I think that he has not answered, but I have one key question to ask which is in respect of the type of procurement that we use in awarding this particular contract.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister, the type of procurement.
Mr Speaker, it went through competitive tendering and if he may, I can go through the process that was followed. -- [Hear! Hear!].
Mr Speaker, there have been a lot of concerns that this NDPAS has so much to do with Google, that it is not the most modern technology as has been claimed by the Hon Minister and the Vice President. Can the Hon Deputy Minister explain to us why it is so unique, that it is the best in the world? This is because we are worried that this
Hon Member, you may have to rephrase your question or else you will be soliciting his opinion.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister how true it is, that this is the most modern technology of digital system in the world and much more advanced than Google When many people think it is a derivative from Google.
Hon Member, you have not laid any foundation. The basis of your question does not exist in this House so you may need to lay it before you can go to that extent.
Mr Speaker, the cost as indicated here and the breakdown does not suggest to me that this is the most modern technology. Can he explain why with this cost, we have been able to get the most modern, even much more than the United Kingdom (UK), Germany and the United States of America (USA)?
Well, Hon Deputy Minister, do you have any idea on this that you can share with the House? [Interruption.] --
Mr Speaker, I have no idea what he is referring to.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister, that he made mention that there is a navigation aspect of this whole project. I would want to find out how different this navigation aspect of the project is from the navigation that we have with Google?
Mr Speaker, the NDPAS uses different platforms to deliver the right customer experience as far as navigation is concerned; Google navigation is one of them, same as open streets. It depends on which of them have the right data as far as digitising the maps in Ghana are concerned. Indeed, currently, we are working towards making sure that we use the national database, and closely working with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to have our own mapping system in Ghana and once that is in place, we will move off any other closed mapping system that we are using to support the navigation of the NDPAS.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister indicated that this is a NDPAS. I would want to find out from him what arrangement they have put in place to ensure that residents in South Dayi in the Volta Region are captured under this project?
Mr Speaker, I am not too sure that I fully understand the question. If he could please come again.
Yes, Hon Member, you may repeat your question.
Mr Speaker, I am simply saying that he indicated that this is a national addressing system and so, I want to find out what arrangements they have put in place, that residents in my constituency, South Dayi -- because even network to make calls is difficult. That is what I am saying.
Mr Speaker, I believe that to be able to generate his digital address, all he needs is a GPS enabled device, download the application and then he downloads his digital address. If there are challenges with network coverage, there is an offline version which is available at the Ghana Post offices. So if there are specific challenges that he has in his constituency, he can take that with me offline, but I do not expect that there will be a district in Ghana that will not have coverage for any network in Ghana. Mr Speaker, so we can take it up. It is also very interesting to note that with the National Identification Authority (NIA) we have published centers that they are going to use for the registration in every district. Every district that has been published has a digital address. So, I think that if there are specific issues, we can take it offline.
Mr Speaker, my question is, the Hon Deputy Minister has provided in his Answer at paragraph 2, that the NDPAS was officially launched by His Excellency on the 18th of October, 2017. Having regard to the fact that he received handing over notes for the Ministry under an eight year National Democratic Congress (NDC) adminis- tration. Is it the case that this is very unique intervention programme or that he inherited this as part of his handing over notes and he is carrying on with it? -- [Interruption] -- Is it a very unique intervention that you are introducing, or you inherited it as part of the line-up of activities that the 8-year Administration of the NDC had put in place already?
I completely disallow the Question. Hon Member, actually I would add that it is an abuse of the process. You are quite experienced and you know the instruments and tools to use at any time. So, if you want to raise that issue then you know what to do.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, there is something worrying about the cost of this project because the first table provided on page 8 shows that Marketing and Information Campaign alone cost this country GHC3.5 million and that is almost the cost of the software which is GHC3.9 million. So, one would wonder if this is an IT intervention or it is just a publicity bliss. Mr Speaker, what is even more worrying is that, in the first paragraph on page 9 of the Answer, the Hon Deputy Minister stated that: “However, the Government may have to spend some more on marketing and publicity so as to ensure that every Ghanaian everywhere knows about the Ghana Post GPS and can have every digital address.” Mr Speaker, my question is; how much is really the budget for Publicity and Marketing, and is this a best practice in the industry? Could the Hon Deputy Minister tell this House how much they intend to spend on Publicity and Marketing? Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, it is strange that for a national campaign which is running in various languages across all media platforms, we would think that GH¢3.5 million is outrageous. Indeed, this is actually a tip of the iceberg of what is required in marketing products. Mr Speaker, I have marketed products for various global brands and various brands in Ghana, and for the period this campaign was run on television, radio, outdoor, online, public relations and creative development, this amount of money is not outrageous. Mr Speaker, we need to understand exactly what was being done; this was a new product, there was very little awareness and so we had to go through the stage of creating awareness for people to understand what the service was about, driving consideration and trial and driving the registration of the addresses. Mr Speaker, as to how much would be required going forward, I am not in the position to do that until Ghana Post goes through their Board and advise the Ministry accordingly. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Members, we need to move on because there are other Questions on the Order Paper. The next Question stands in the name of the Hon Member for Lambussie Constituency, Hon Edward Kaale-ewola Dery.
Hon Member, is the Speaker out of order?
Mr Speaker, not at all, but it is a privilege to have the Hon Deputy Minister to respond to some of the Questions. There is a critical part of his Answer which I believe that we must understand, and I know that you have already called for the next Question. Mr Speaker, but there is an issue which is in the table that has not been touched on, and it is important for us to know what his response would be. Mr Speaker, it is about procurement, but the table which has been provided gives doubt about some of the issues. Mr Speaker, so I am just pleading for this to be raised, for him to clear our minds on that. Mr Speaker, it is a humble application.
Hon Member, is it about the type of procurement?
Mr Speaker, generally, infrastructural projects must have something called “retention” and that is the money which is withheld and to be paid after defect liability period, but in the table, there is no evidence of retention being kept. In fact, they paid everything and it also appears that the consultant has been paid 100 per cent for 90 per cent of the work done. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out if it is normal for them to pay 100 per cent of a budget while 95 per cent of the work has actually been done. Mr Speaker, those are the critical things I wish I could ask the Hon Deputy Minister.
Hon Member, you have to be timeous next time because it is an issue that we cannot sweep under the carpet and so, I would allow the Hon Deputy Minister to just clarify it and then we could move on. I see the First Deputy Majority Whip on his feet.
Mr Speaker, I believe that if we look at page 8, it says that an amount of GH¢9, 495, 079.28, representing 95 per cent -- and it also says the remaining five per cent would be paid at the project completion. Mr Speaker, so if the Hon Member is saying that 100 per cent has been paid, then I believe he Hon Member has not read that portion. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw his attention to that portion so that your ruling would stand, because as you rightly said at the pre-Sitting meeting, we have a lot of Business to do and I thought that you indicated that after 12.00 noon, it would be difficult for you. We are close to
Hon Member, I am conscious of that. I read the issue of the remaining five per cent but what the Hon Member raised is about retention. Let us hear from the Hon Deputy Minister so that we could move on. Hon Deputy Minister, do you have a response to that issue?
Mr Speaker, as I indicated earlier during my response to the Question, 95 per cent of the work has been completed and 95 per cent has been paid and there is five per cent which is outstanding. Mr Speaker, that out- standing is part of the retention arrangement when the project is completed.
Thank you very much, Hon Deputy Minister. We would move to the next Question. Hon Member for Lambussie-Karni you may now ask your Question. Curbing Network Interferences in Lambussie-Karni District Q.311. Mr Edward Kaale-ewola Dery asked the Minister for Communications what steps are being taken to curb the network interferences from our neigbour, Burkina Faso, which is affecting communication in the entire Lambussie District.
Mr Speaker, communications along the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso is governed by a standing Border Coordination Agreement signed at a meeting held in Accra from 25th to 28th September 2012 with the following provisions among others: i. The signal from each country can extend to the other country within a penetration distance of 10 kilometres. ii. The strength of the signal from an operator in a country should not exceed -85 decibel- milliwatts (dBm) at the periphery of the penetration distance in the other country. Mr Speaker, the Lambussie-Karni District is about 16 kilometres from the Ghana-Burkina Faso border. Conse- quently, if there are complaints of interference caused by signals from Burkina Faso at Lambussie -Karni District, there may be a potential breach of the Border Coordination Agreement. The procedure in such cases is to conduct a technical investigation to verify the issue and to take measurements before a complaint is made to the Regulatory Authority in Burkina Faso. Mr Speaker, the National Commu- nications Authority is conducting a technical investigation into the complaint and the monitoring, processing and analysis exercise would be completed by the end of August, 2018. The Ministry of Communications will apprise this august House as soon as the report is ready. Mr Speaker, in the situation where this breach is confirmed, Ghana will call and hold a coordination meeting among the regulators and operators involved in September, 2018. It would be the position of Ghana for the interference to be cured and bring relief to the residents of Lambussie-Karni District by November, 2018.
Hon Member, are you satisfied with the Answer?
Mr Speaker, I appreciate so much the Minister's effort to answer this Question. If that was the case, in the year 2012, as an agreement between Ghana and Burkina Faso, would he consider it appropriate that they mount a better and stronger booster that would improve communication in the district? Mr Speaker, in the entire Lambussie, if you go to the district capital that is where one could make a call better and also at the border town, which is Hamile. However, if you go round the entire district, the French network rather has taken over. I believe that if they put in an effort with a better system of boosters, it could serve the people better than the current situation on the ground. Mr Speaker, would the Hon Deputy Minister consider mounting some stronger boosters to resist what is happening currently?
Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, in my earlier Answer, I stated that the National Communications Authority was investi- gating the complaints. We need to fully understand what the issue is for us to be able to understand what remedy we need to put in place. If it means that we need to talk to the mobile network operators to consider improving the coverage there, that would be considered. But I wish to assure my good friend that latest by the end of November, 2018, we would resolve this issue. I thank you very much.
Yes, Hon Member, your second supplementary question?
Mr Speaker, I appreciate again my Hon Friend telling us that by the end of November, we would have this as something of the past and not even to talk about it. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from my Hon Colleague, who has the right to tap people's lines?
Is your question on who has the right to tap people's lines?
Mr Speaker, yes.
That is completely a different question. Your original Question is talking about penetration, and now you are talking about tapping, which is a different area altogether and you know the right thing to do.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the Answer provided, the Hon Deputy Minister is estimating Lambussie as 16 kilometres from Burkina Faso. That is not the case. He further mentioned that it is an international border; we share border with Burkina Faso. It is not that we are moving somewhere and he is talking about 16 kilometres away. Mr Speaker, in this case, we are sharing border with Burkina Faso. There is nothing to talk of 16 kilometres again. Mr Speaker, may I find out from my Hon Colleague, in this particular case, do we actually gain anything in terms of revenue assurance and also is it not causing us? Already, residents are losing so much in terms of communication. One buys units that could take him for at least a week and spends it in just a day on a call because we are charged international tariffs. Mr Speaker, so are we actually getting any revenue as a country from that, although I know my constituents lose a lot?
Your question is whether we are deriving revenue from the operations in the Lambussie-Karni district.
Mr Speaker, it is so.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, if you listen to his questions, my good Friend is digressing into a different realm. Like you told him earlier, he knows what to do. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, your question is actually inadmissible. It is not a supplementary question to the main Question. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister whether the Answer provided as regards the distance, if he is even aware that that is not the case. The district is not far away from Burkina Faso; it shares border with Burkina Faso. I insist on that.
Well, you have not asked a Question. You are just telling us that what he submitted is incorrect, that your district is not 16 kilometres away from the national borders. That is what you just stated. So what is the question?
Mr Speaker, is he referring to a different district or Lambussie-Karni This is because, if he talked about 16 kilometres, it is not the case. Mr Speaker, could he now assure me, as he said that come November, we would not suffer the same? Early on, I have even
Hon Deputy Minister, the Hon Member is simply requesting for an assurance that come November, 2018, this problem would have been solved?
Mr Speaker, by convention, when we are looking at the distances, it is an approximate distance and actually about the district capital. So, this is to just clear that point. Mr Speaker, I have given my very good Friend the assurance --
Hon Deputy Minister, you did not state district capital. You said it is the district. It is stated there “Lambussie District”, and so the reference is to a whole district. So, you should be specific the next time to say the district capital is 16 kilometres away from the national border. With that one, he would not have any question to raise again.
Mr Speaker, I am guided by your direction. Mr Speaker, I have assured my good Friend that by November, 2018, he would have proper coverage, and I believe that he and I would have a conference call and he would assure this House that his district capital has been connected and they are communicating with the people that they want to communicate with. So, we would address this issue. I give him every assurance.
Hon Members, we move on to Question numbered 373, which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Buem, Mr Daniel K. Ashiamah. Fibre Optic Cable from Bawku to Ho Q.373. Mr Daniel K. Ashiamah asked the Minister for Communications what has been done about the 780 km fibre optic cable laid from Bawku to Ho, in terms of getting the districts along the cables connected.
Mr Speaker, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure plays a substantial role in catalysing economic growth, especially in today's era of internet and mobile telecommunication. It is in recognition of this that Government constructed the Eastern Corridor Fiber Optic Backbone Infrastructure from Ho to Bawku which has further been extended from Ho to Accra, to provide internet connectivity to communities along this route. The Fiber Optic Backbone Infras- tructure goes through 35 districts and became wholly functional in December 2017. Out of these 35 districts, 16 are already activated and internet requests in those districts can be honoured. These districts are: 1. Yilo Krobo; 2. Ho; 3. Hohoe; 4. Kpandu; 5. Nkwanta; 6. Tamale; 7. Gushiegu; 8. Bimbilla; 9. Yendi ; 10. Bawku; 11. Shai Osudoku; 12. Kpone Katamanso; 13. Adenta; 14. La-Nkwantanang; 15. Jasikan; 16. Asuogyaman. Mr Speaker, under the eTransform project, there is a “connectivity to district centers” project to interconnect and secure government agencies in the country to enable faster communication, easy access to government shared services, integrate functions and simplify processes. The remaining 19 districts will be captured under this particular project, and by November 2018, they will be connected to the e-Government Network. These Districts are Garu, Natinga, Nakpanduri, Karaga, Sang, Nalerigu, Kparekpare, Gambaga, Zabzugu, Nakpa- yili, Oti Damanko, Kpassa, Odumasa, Dambai, WoraWora, Kpeve, Have, Vakpo, North Tongu and Lower Manya.
Hon Deputy Minister, it is Worawora. [Laughter.]
Your worry is only on the pronunciation of
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister, in the second line of the third paragraph, he said; “Out of these 35 districts, 16 are already activated and internet requests in those districts can be honoured.” Mr Speaker, where can these people in the various districts make these requests? Is it at the Ministry of Communications or we have designated offices that they can make requests for them to be connected? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Are you talking about the internet request?
Mr Speaker, these requests could be made to the National Information Technology Agency through any of these districts that are currently active.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I am done with the supplementary questions.
Thank you very much. We now move to the fourth Question, which also stands in the name of the same Hon Member. Hon Member, you may ask your Question. Network for Communication Q.374. Mr Daniel Kwesi Ashiamah asked the Minister for Communications when people of Guaman, Atakrom, and Nsuta would have network for communication.
Yes, Mr Speaker. It would not be a question but I just want to say that I thank them and I would also continue to monitor, so that by the end of October, the people of these communities would have the telecommunication network. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. We now move to the last Question, which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Samuel Nartey George. Hon Member, you may ask your Question. State of the Commercialisation of NITA's Infrastructure Q.375. Mr Samuel N. George asked the Minister for Communications the current state of the commercialisation of the National Information Technology Agency's infrastructure.
Mr Speaker, the strategic direction of National Information Technology Agency (NITA) is to shift from the paradigm of Government supporting the operations of the Infrastructure. This approach has failed a lot of sensitive and expensive installations by Governments in the past. NITA agreed on a new direction to “partner” with a private firm to commercialise excess capacity of NITA's infrastructure, by leasing the infras- tructure on agreed terms to take care of the operations and maintenance, and also reinvest returns without displacing NITA's ownership of the infrastructure in any manner in expanding and refreshing the infrastructure wherever necessary. Mr Speaker, in pursuance of the above, NITA invited tenders through an international competitive tender from prospective private partners to partner NITA in the commercialisation of its underlisted infrastructure which include
Hon Member, any supplementary question?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister, what portion of the infrastructure has been commer- cialised? And I am asking this based on paragraph 569 of the 2018 Budget, and paragraph 524 of the 2017 Budget. What portion of the infrastructure has been commercialised?
Mr Speaker, I refer to the second paragraph of my Answer, where it is stated that NITA has agreed to a new direction to partner with a private firm to commercialise excess capacity of NITA's infrastructure, by leasing the infrastructure on agreed terms to take care of operations and maintenance and also reinvest returns without displacing NITA's ownership of the infrastructure. Mr Speaker, so it is the excess capacity that is being commercialised, and the under listed infrastructures are there; two data centres in Accra and Kumasi, the Fibre Backbone Network, the Metro Fibre Networks and the LTE sites. So it is the excess capacity on this infrastructure that has been commer- cialised. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I believe that both parties have agreed that the operation would commence within six months. There may be specific issues in terms of resourcing and other issues. I am not sure that I am in the position to give this information out. I would find out exactly what the specific issues are and I would revert to the House.
The last supplementary, if any.
There was a second part of the question he did not answer, whether it was part of the 10 year contract or not, but that is fine. The last supplementary question is, with respect to the LTE Network that is being commercialised. What is the real scope of that commercialisation? Would it, for example, allow the commercialisation of the LTE excess capacity to interested parties like telecom companies?
Mr Speaker, I believe that it is the prerogative of the LEBARA to determine who they are going to give those services to. As far as the contract is concerned, the LEBARA has a responsibility to commercialise a percentage of this infrastructure. Once they have a partner or they have an off-taker that makes commercial sense and technical sense, it is their prerogative if it is within the provisions of the contract for them to deliver.
Hon Members, Question time is over. On behalf of the House, I would like to thank the Hon Deputy Minister for Communications for attending upon the House to respond to the Questions. Hon Deputy Minister, you are discharged. Hon Members -- yes, Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, with your leave, I come under Order 53 (2), if we could take item numbered 6 before 5.
Item numbered 6 -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, I believe we can go back to item numbered 5.
Item numbered 5 on the Order Paper - Statements. We have two main Statements, and in view of the pressure on us now, I want to put forward to Hon Members, for us to allow the Hon Members to present the Statements and then we can make comments on the two Statements. Is that acceptable to the House?
Mr Speaker, I believe that is the best way to go.
Mr Speaker, I side with my Hon Colleague.
I am most grateful. The first Statement stands in the name of the Hon Ranking Member on the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon Kobena Woyome. Yes, Hon Member, you may make your Statement now.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement which is intended to congratulate the young talented WBO World Champion, Isaac Dogboe who is just 23 years old. Mr Speaker, Isaac Zion Dogboe is the latest to project Ghana to the world by winning the WBO Super Bantamweight title in Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, United States of America. He defeated Jessie Magdaleno from the United States of America in the 11th round in a steely display of determination and resilience as well as display that one can describe as purely hungry- for-success, despite been floored in the first round, he stood up and with hard work and perseverance sent down his opponent three (3) times before he was saved by the referee. Mr Speaker, it is important to acknowledge the humble beginning of this determined young man who is on the rise to match legends before him like Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey and Joshua Clottey. In spite of his educational background, the young man discovered his talent at a very young age and pursued it with passion which today we see it manifested in the world title. It is also worth noting to see how his father Paul Dogboe who is his coach, mentor and inspiration, left his white collar job to see him through this journey which has proved successful. As we honour the champion for his heroics, we must not forget the men, who behind the scenes sacrificed their time and everything to see to the success of Isaac's journey.
Hon Members, let us take the second Statement. We have a rendition from both the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Hon Ranking Member on the same Committee on the African Union Day. So we would give them the opportunity— I believe the Hon Chairman would have to read the Statement and the Hon Ranking Member would be given the opportunity to contribute to it. I do not believe the practice of allowing two Statements to be made on the same thing is proper. So if the Hon Chairman is available, he could do so now.
Mr Speaker, I beg to make an application for Hon Fuseini to read the Statement on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Well, in the circumstances, the Hon Ranking Member is higher than the Hon Member. Unless you are telling me he is the Deputy Chairman. But the Hon Ranking Member would now have to read it, then the Hon Member would support it.
Mr Speaker, this Hon Member is wearing the shoes of the Hon Chairman of the Committee. So—
Well, I have not seen those shoes.
Mr Speaker, I am telling you because the Hon Chairman is far away. I can see the shoes right here. [Laughter.] So Mr Speaker, if you would permit him to read the Statement, just like you said, he is not reading the Statement in his capacity as Hon Fuseini, but as the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Deputy Whip, you have not laid any foundation why the Chairman himself is not available to read the Statement and an Hon Member is being called upon to wear his shoes to read the Statement. So I do not see the Hon Member to be wearing those shoes. This is because he has no such authority; he is doing this because he is just a member of the Committee. So if you want to convince the House that that is the situation, you better do so.
Mr Speaker, I agree with you in one breath and I would also want to say that this one is just a delegation; he has delegated him to do it. But the question is, where is the Chairman? The Hon Chairman is not around; he has travelled small. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, so, with all due respect, I still would want to appeal to your good self that with the power of the Chairman being invoked on him, you allow him to read the Statement.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, you are putting up a very weak case because with this ‘travel small' thing -- [Laughter.] But once the words of the Hon Majority Deputy Whip is to the effect that he has been authorised to make the Statement for and on behalf of the Chairman, he could then properly wear the shoes. He is not delegated but authorised to do so on his behalf. As for that, I would listen to it. But if contributions are made, and we need further clarification and you who is wearing the shoes is not in the position to do so, the consequences will fall on you. Hon Member, you may do so now. African Union Day
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to read the Statement on behalf of Hon Frank Annoh- Dompreh Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsawam- Adoagyire and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world”. Mr Speaker, I have no doubt that we all are proud of this day, regardless of the shortfalls that identify with it. Mr Speaker, years ago, newly-liberated countries felt the need to express solidarity with one another, and in May 1963, 32 African countries met in Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU). It was a major political force on the continent until the 1990s. This year's celebration of African Union Day is the 55th edition and is being held on the theme: “Winning the Fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Africa's development”. Mr Speaker, the Union was founded with the primary aim to fight for the decolonisation of some African countries that were, within that period, under oppressors' rule. The organisation pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter was set out which sought to improve the living standards across member States. Mr Speaker, colonialism is, admittedly, not the sole cause of Africa's problems. However, its negative impact persists but for a long time we have as a continent threaded on linking Africans under development issues to the fact that the continent was colonised by others for many years. This notion has misled us in many ways. Mr Speaker, it is time for Africa to benefit from Africa's wealth that can be used to make Africa a better place, and to also sustain the generations unborn. We must work to enable our land, after decades of looting to enter an era of opulence. Mr Speaker, we have looked elsewhere without knowing how corruption has been a scourge to Africa's development. Corruption has become part of our daily lives and it is gradually becoming a culture that marches on in every line of work everywhere on the African continent. . Mr Speaker, in the political, economic, social, religious, et cetera sectors everywhere, corruption is a key factor that could be identified easily. Corruption has over the years had an enormous negative impact on development in African countries, so overcoming the corruption issue is crucial for the continent's future . Mr Speaker, the statistics of corruption in Africa over the years is not encouraging. This has discouraged investors from considering entry into Africa. Corruption is known to gulp substantial portions of the continent's tax revenue, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and even international aid, and can create a strong abhorrence to inter- national investments. Mr Speaker, the fight is for all Africans to take up to ensure that the continent is free from this canker. We must, as citizens, feel the need to be responsible to our nations and also pledge allegiance to the continent. We must sanitise corrupt structures and not hesitate to name and shame corrupt citizens. Mr Speaker, Africa can grow and when its people are strong together, we would feel the need to be partakers of ploughing the road that will lead to Africa's development. Mr Speaker, the AU Day is to remind us of the fact that we are one people and that we must be concerned about the growth of each nation and in doing so we must fight against all activities that only come to suppress the growth of the continent. It could be noted that with dreary reports on graft arising from Africa, some commentators are quick to dismiss the continent as a hub of endemic corruption. These concerns cannot and should not be taken lightly. Mr Speaker, however, people who want to invest in the continent should also avoid allowing bleak statistics to halt their investment plans. It can be noted that with the right strategies and perspectives, corruption can become a manageable factor in one's African investments. Mr Speaker, the worry at checkpoints along African roads serves as the most noticeable example. The continuous request by checkpoint officials for unofficial payments by citizens is heartbreaking. When that corruption rises to systemic abuses by checkpoint officials, then the strength of the restrain to new investments certainly upsurges. Political corruption is also a problem across the globe just as educational corruption, where people are certified without acquiring any training in a particular field. Mr Speaker, the problem with feeding corruption is that once you start, there is really no end. It is therefore needful that as a continent, we all wear our zero- tolerance jackets against bribery. The media should strengthen their watchdog organs everywhere in the continent and also, the law enforcement agencies should be on the lookout for corrupt citizens. We must all contribute our quota to fight this menace, to ensure that Africa stands tall out of the other continents freed from corruption and dishonesty. Mr Speaker, in our effort to win the war against corruption, African governments must demonstrate beyond rhetorics, their commitments to fight the canker of corruption. Like other democracies, Ghana has demonstrated such commitment by first and foremost, the appointment of a Special Prosecutor by the Akufo-Addo Administration. This scores the point that corruption has dire consequences, not only on Africa's internal democracy and economic development, but also injures her reputation in the outside world. Indeed, some countries around the continent such as Tanzania, Botswana, Rwanda, to name a few, have equally demonstrated the willingness to chase out the demon of corruption. Mr Speaker, it is instructive to recall the memorable words of former President Barrack Obama, when he charged Africa to build strong institutions as a measure of scaling up its developmental and democratic gains. Over the years, appalling institutional and systemic failures have been the incubator for corruption to thrive. Africa has no excuse to allow for weaker institutions to characterise its govern- ments and economies. Mr Speaker, the AU Day must remind us all that we are each other's keeper together as a continent, and we mujst pray for each other's growth and development. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful.
“Africa must unite. We have before us not only an opportunity but a historic duty. If we are to remain free, if we are to enjoy the full benefits of Africa's rich resources, we must unite to plan for our total defence and the full exploitation of our material and human means, in the full interest of all our peoples. To go it alone will limit our horizons, curtail our expectations, and threaten our liberty.” Long live Africa Unity. I am exceedingly grateful.
Thank you very much, Hon Ranking Member. I will allow two contributors from each side to comment on the Statement so that we could call it a day.
When you have two ‘Fuseinis' on their feet, I will be compelled to go for the senior one so that at least, there is law --
Hon Inusah Fuseini?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to this important Statement made on the floor of the House by the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and ably contributed to by the Hon Ranking Member. Today is a very important day in the history of Africa. The history that has been dogged with a lot of challenges and problems; a history of a continent that did not take part in the determination of the various jurisdictional areas presently within the continent. Mr Speaker, what I mean to say is that somewhere in the year 1879, the colonial powers decided to balkanise Africa and share same among themselves. The balkanisation of the continent has created problems that we have to solve today. All efforts at attempting to solve the problems have not yielded good results even though there are remarkable progresses made. Mr Speaker, as recently as 16 years ago, the Organisation of African Unity was re-christened to bring it in line with modern developments and trends and it is called the ‘African Union' -- A gradual shift and move towards the continental union we all desire. Mr Speaker, just a few days ago, in March to be precise, African leaders gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, and 44 of the leaders who gathered there signed the African Continental Free Trade Area. This Agreement was ratified in this House, needless to say that this Agreement if implemented will create opportunities for African countries to trade among themselves. Mr Speaker, it has been said repeatedly that the way Africans can get themselves out of the quagmire of poverty will be through trade, and that all African countries have said that the old model of simply producing primary goods and sending these goods to Europe for processing will not deliver the desired development that we want. Mr Speaker, indeed, today, our leaders have defined the Africa we want and that is the vision of Agenda 2063. The Africa we want must create conditions for us to process our primary goods, add value and create the necessary prosperity for our individual countries. The Africa we want must create opportunities for our teeming youth to find work in Africa. The Africa we want is an Africa that will not live on the benevolence of our development partners. Mr Speaker, the Africa we want is the Africa that will accord dignity and respect to all Africans in the eyes of other citizens of other continents in this world. The Africa we want is an Africa that we, as Africans, can be proud that we are Africans. Mr Speaker, just a few days ago, I was in Kigali with the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for a meeting of the grouping of the liberal and democratic parties of Europe, Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, under the auspices of the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Mr Speaker, we were struck by the level of development in Kigali, Rwanda. When you set foot in Kigali, Rwanda, you would not believe that it is a city in Africa which just came out of a brutal genocide a few years ago. So, it comes down to the deficit that we have on this continent; how come that Rwanda, a few years after their genocide, has been able to transform themselves in such a way, that they have won the admiration of not only other African countries, but also the European counterparts. The obvious answer is leadership. There appears to be a deficit of leadership on the African continent. Added to leadership is the political will of African countries to do what is right and proper to transform our various economies. There appears to be a deficit of political will on the African continent and those that have shown leadership and political will have been able to capitalise on these very two values to transform their countries. Mr Speaker, the African Continental Union will not be possible if we do not have inter-connectivity and I am - We are happy that the Hon Ranking Member on the Committee on Communication and his deputy are sitting by each other listening. We must be interconnected. To be interconnected, we must build common infrastructure; the roads and railways must link African countries together. Indeed, just a few days ago, the aviation industry in Africa declared the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which is commendable. Mr Speaker, it should be possible for an aeroplane to take off from Ghana and land anywhere on the African continent without having to go through Europe and back to the African continent. A few years ago, I had a nasty experience of going to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and I had to fly to United Kingdom and connect to the DR Congo. On my return, I was flown to France and then United Kingdom before coming to Ghana. Mr Speaker, it should be possible for Africa -- That is the only way that the goods and services that would be produced under the African Continental Free Trade Area would be able to move to the various markets. Mr Speaker, we are told that presently, Africa has a 1.2 billion population. When the African Continental Free Trade Area comes into operation, it would be the single largest trading bloc in the world with huge potentials. But today, intra- African trade is between seven per cent and 12 per cent.
“To go it alone would limit our horizons, curtail our expectations and threaten our liberty.” For individual countries to go it alone is simply not possible and for a population of 25 million people, it is simply impossible to develop Ghana beyond aid. Mr Speaker, it is impossible and we do not have the market --
Hon Member, please you may have to limit your contribution because you have taken quite a long time. You are making sense but time is always not --
Mr Speaker, very well. In conclusion, I would land forcefully by saying that my humble plea is to see whether our leaders would have the political will to do what is right and proper. First and foremost would be how to deal with our sanitation problem. We would have to take certain drastic measures to be able to deal with them. Mr Speaker, secondly, I would say that the Africa that we want is possible, and if African countries would invest a trust relationship among their fellow leaders and give respect, dignity, freedom and liberty to their citizens, we would be able to explore the horizons of the African continent. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon A. B. A. Fuseini?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement. Let me salute the Hon Chairman of the Committee and the Hon Ranking Member for eloquently recognising the legendary role of the founder of this nation, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who the international community has globally acclaimed as the African of the millennium. Mr Speaker, it is said that salt is not in a hurry to advertise itself because if it is in the soup and it is tasted, one would bear eloquent testimony to it. Mr Speaker, the tragedy of Africa as summarised by the legendary Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was that, Africa is the richest continent but Africans are the poorest. This is a stark contradiction that a continent which is the richest features the poorest on the surface of the earth. This tells us -- Just like the Dagombas would say; when you have your mouth in somebody else's kitchen, you cannot assert your independence and freedom. It is important that Africa, being caught in deep throats, takes its destiny into its own hands. I am just happy that my Hon Colleague, Hon Inusah Fuseini, who spoke before me touched on a very important point that has been lost on us as a people. This has to do with the continental unity and economic integration of the continent. It is not for nothing that the legendary Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah said that the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it was linked up with the total liberation of the African continent -- Total liberation and unification of the African continent. Mr Speaker, the importance of those words lies in the fact that no single African country is viable enough to stand on its own in this day and age of global integration. Mr Speaker, I would want to give some practical examples. We could imagine Ghana with a population of 25 million people competing against the European Union. Even before the European Union, when Ghana was competing against the United Kingdom, Germany and some of these advanced nations, we did not stand any chance. Today, we are competing against the coalescence of European powers, putting their might and resources together against a poor and balkanised Africa. Poor not in terms of resources but in terms of organisational ability and strength. Mr Speaker, so none of the African countries, and not even the South Africans stand any decent chance of survival in the global competition that we have today. The only answer is for Africa to put its strength and collective will together. It is a worrying phenomenon, that in this day and age, when others are even looking for higher forms of integration, we are further balkanising. There is further division on the African continent but there is a ray of hope and I am happy that the recent declaration of an African Continental Free Trade Area constitutes one positive step. There is no doubt in my mind that when Africa begins to speak with one voice and begins to act as a continental body and pool resources and trade well among ourselves, that is the day I could say without any shred of doubt that those who have oppressed and exploited Africa for decades and centuries would begin to shiver. They would know that the giant has woken up and given that Africa controls the bulk of natural resources -- Mr Speaker, there is no mineral resource on the surface of this earth that is not in Africa. Mr Speaker, Africa has everything as well as the human resource -- population. So it stands to reason that we cannot be sitting on the gold mine and complain of poverty. We have all that it takes; it is just the political will to ensure that we walk the talk. So Mr Speaker, I would want to take this opportunity to call on all African leaders to dedicate themselves, not just to the rhetoric of the passage of important measures such as the African Free Trade Area Agreement, but in their individual countries, to ensure that the talk is walked, put in practical measures to ensure that this is given effect. Mr Speaker, at our own sub-regional level, at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after more than 40 years of the passage of the ECOWAS Protocols and many other provisions, sometimes the elementary basis of integration such as free movement of people, goods and services is lacking. One would want to travel to Togo, just next door, and he encounters problems, not to talk of going all the way to Nigeria. We must take this opportunity to dismantle all the barriers that inhibit free movement of our people, goods and services as a way of giving vent to this important aspirations of our people. Mr Speaker, I am sure that Africans are tired of having to tread through the Sahara and many areas in order to go to Europe.
Thank you very much. I believe the Hon Member for Offinso South wanted to contribute? Yes?
Mr Speaker, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and supported by the Hon Member for North Tongu, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa. Mr Speaker, the main objective of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), as it has been ably stated, was for Africans to come out of the colonial rule. It has been a while since all countries of Africa came out of the colonial rule. But as we speak and celebrate the formation of the OAU which has now been changed into African Union (AU), not much could be said about Africa in terms of economic development. Mr Speaker, I do not subscribe to the notion that the woes of Africa are attributable to the balkanisation and the colonisation of Africa by the Europeans. Singapore and South Korea, if you should read their economic history, or if you read the economic history of the Asian tigers, especially Singapore and South Korea, as of 1957 when Ghana gained her Independence, these two countries were at par with Ghana. But when we talk about economic transformation, Ghana and a lot of African countries come nowhere near these two Asian tigers; Singapore and South Korea. Mr Speaker, quite recently, just as the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee rightly pointed out, we visited Kigali, and Kigali has been able to transform its economy by leaps and bounds due to the quality leadership being demonstrated by Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Mr Speaker, it is however worthy to note that Rwanda came out of genocidal killings not long ago, that is, in 1994, where close to one million Hutus were brutally murdered and the country was totally devasted. But because of the leadership skills of President Paul Kagame, if you enter Kigali today, you would be surprised to learn that Kigali, to the best of my assessment, in terms of cleanliness of the city, far surpasses many European countries that boast of or are now boasting of economic development. Mr Speaker, but this is not because of the fact that Rwanda has more resources than most African countries. It is because of the leadership skills being demonstrated by President Paul Kagame. Mr Speaker, it has been rightly said that Africa has a lot of resources, both natural and human. That is not disputable. But why are Africans poor? Africans are poor because -- I would refer to the poverty of Africans or attribute the poverty of Africans to leadership paralysis. It is due to leadership paralysis. Mr Speaker, in order for the countries in Africa to come out of this economic woes, leadership in Africa must have the political will, as they stated, and we must set our priorities right. If we do not set our priorities right, all the treaties, the covenants and the conventions that we have been signing pertaining to the development of the African agenda would be in vain. Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about the African Free Trade Area; capacitating our local entrepreneurs; Africa opening its continents to the rest of the world, but if we do not develop our human resources by capacitating and educating our youth, at the end of the day, this African Free Trade Area Agreement that we have just signed would come into fruition and the continent would be invaded by foreign investors. Mr Speaker, I have no lingering doubt in my mind, that if we educate our teeming youth well enough, thus giving them the necessary competencies and the necessary skills, at the end of the day, they would be capacitated enough, and ultimately, at the end of the day, we could have a lot of better business men and business women and entrepreneurs. When we have a lot of committed business men, business women and entrepreneurs, at the end of the day Africa would stand a better chance of being industrialised. This is because, when we do not have the necessary skills and the necessary competencies and the right human resources capacitated enough, at the end of the day, the industrialisation that we are talking about can never be realised. Mr Speaker, apart from this, we need to tackle corruption as the Hon Chairman on the Committee on Foreign Affairs stated. We need to know that every year, a lot of cedis or dollars are lost through corruption. Mr Speaker, we need to tackle the numerous problems that Africa is bedevilled with, including setting our priorities right and ensuring that Africa is placed on a pedestal that we are all yearning for. Then, among other things, we need to tackle corruption if we end up successfully tackling illiteracy. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I once again thank the Hon Members who made this Statement, for bringing to bare the problems of Africa and bringing to bare the solutions that we can all craft for the possible resolutions of the problems that African countries encounter. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
At this stage, two from each side of the House have contributed. So it is left with one Hon Member. I can see that the Hon Deputy Majority Whip is on his feet. Hon Members, I would then have to direct that Sitting be held beyond the prescribed period. I see that you want to contribute. Many more people would want to contribute but we would not go beyond
Thank you Mr Speaker for this opportunity to contribute to the Statement
Let me listen to Hon Kwetey.
Mr Speaker, I wish to contribute to the Statement made on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and supported by the Ranking Member for Youth and Sports, Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and to also add my voice for the need for us to congratulate the African Union (AU) and for that matter all the citizens of Africa, for these many years of charting a course. A course meant toward bringing the transformation of this continent, that by all intents and purposes, is the richest continent on the planet. Yet unfortunately, in terms of the actual, it remains the poorest and most undeveloped of all the continents. Mr Speaker, I intercede briefly that though a lot of people tend to believe that our biggest difficulty has to do with the external infrastructure, the need for us to be able to put together the development as we consider it to be external development. I would want to say that the biggest problem of the continent, unfortunately is not the external, but rather the internal. And that internal has to do with a continent where there is a massive need for a massive internal transformation in the way we think in our values and the way we act. Until we realise this, what we are going to continue to do is to be moving round in circles and have changes upon changes, but until we realise that the internal infrastructure needs to be changed, the external dimensions would continue to suffer. Mr Speaker, we talk a lot about the unity of the continent, but you would notice first of all that we, as countries have massive problems with the internal unity in our countries. In countries with a population of about 27 million people, yet you see those countries sharply divided along ethnic
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to this Statement on African Union Day, a very important day when we are reflecting on what Africa is all about, our commitment to unite ourselves, our commitment to fight to ensure that Africa is not the same poor disrespected continent it had always been to the world. Mr Speaker, it is a time to soul search to see whether all the things we said about the desire to gain independence and the desires to develop a new African personality have come to fruition, and to begin to ask ourselves whether our collective desire to unite has any bearing on the lives of our people years after we have decided that this unity is the way forward. Mr Speaker, on that day May 1963, it was the desire of the leaders of Africa to establish a principled unity, an idea which generates into a principle that when we unite, we can fight better, when we unite we can trade better, when we unite we can defend ourselves better. Fifty years on, we are still thinking about whether this unity has any meaning at all in our lives, in the lives of the poor people who are struggling at the village levels, at rural areas, urban peripheries and urban centres, whether or not this unity has any direct effect on their lives. Mr Speaker, the optimism after independence was so much. Africans were happy that we had gained independence, so there was progress. Most of the States adopted a statist approach to develop- ment, meaning that the State took the lead in creating wealth and ensuring that there was fair distribution to the rest of Africa, until we got to the point when looking back, in the 1970s and 1980s, the economies began to grow lower until they sank so low that many Africans thought that the only solution was to leave the continent and run away to Europe, America, Asia and other places for greener pastures. This was a defining period for Africa, because at this time Africans began to ask themselves whether independence was worth it. Many references were made to the good old days, and the good old days being those colonial times, very embarrassing references to colonial periods as days that were even better than when we were independent or as independent countries. Mr Speaker, it is therefore important, that in talking about African unity, there are key indicators we have to work towards. How do we transform the many resources that are available in Africa into meaningful exportable products? It makes Africa worth what it is, and indeed, I have always felt that Africa is an enigma. With all the resources at its disposal, with all the worthy minerals in Africa, with good soils, excellent environments, great human resource, yet, the continent continues to lag behind progress. What is the idea behind our love for poverty, our failure to develop, our inability to expand our economies and to make them serve the people? Mr Speaker, so much is to be reflected on about the challenges we faced, and it got to the point when Africans sat and reflected on it and decided that we were supposed to work towards a certain end, and that brought about the Lagos Plan of Action. Mr Speaker, the Lagos Plan of Action then defined the way forward, where Africans could trade with each other and begin to reflect on how we can utilise the part of our environment where we live to
benefit the people, but it was dead from the very inception of it. Then the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) came, and other initiatives came, but all these are not helping Africa at all, because they are all swept away by externalities, external influences on Africa's development. Mr Speaker, it is known that if just one per cent of trade is increased in Africa, all the foreign aid we have asked for would not be necessary at all. Yet the continent where there is least interaction, where there is least trade and economic activities is Africa. It is the continent that hosts the largest number of poor people. The African's share of trade is less than two per cent in the world, and everything continues to go down. 2. 22 p. m. Mr Speaker, the fact that this year's theme is “Africa Union Agenda 2063” is very critical to us. I happened to be in Ethiopia on the day the African Commission, led by H.E Dr Nkosazana Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, launched the African Union Agenda 2063, which was to harness our collective resources to underscore our ability to fight in the world of work, be able to trade among ourselves and extend our hold on the economy of the world. Mr Speaker, with all the efforts we have made in all these things, it does not look like Agenda 2063 is holding its place in our difficulty to fight to get a secured place in our productive structure in the world. The challenge is still very big. The problem of Africa creating trade blocs is still a challenge; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Southern African Development Com- munity (SADC) is still a big challenge of Africa breaking into the very heart of the economy. Contributing to the world production and distribution of wealth is still a problem. Mr Speaker, the African child is crying. We are crying for a period of our lives when the African could stay in Africa and not run away to Europe. The period when Africans were lined and whipped away from the continent into Europe and the United States of America is transforming itself into Africans themselves borrowing money and passing through unapproved routes in order to get to Europe, America and other places. It is a sad period in our lives, and we need to do more soul searching and reflection on this African Union Day, so that we can leave something for our younger generation. Times are coming when we may be colonised again if we do not take care. Times are coming when we just have to rise up, take the challenge and respond to the challenges of the times, so that we can be the Africa that the founding fathers thought of, when for example, Dr Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory talked about the new African personality. Mr Speaker, the challenge is not just with the leaders. It is with all of us. It is about changing the mind-set of the African and leaving the dependency that we imbibed, which has become part of our lives. It is about making sure that African unity is not just about niceties and conferences, but it is making sure that the ideas sink down to the grassroots and for people to realise what exactly it means. Ghana must take the lead once more.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statements made by our Hon Colleagues today; one was on youth and sports, and the other on the AU Day. Mr Speaker, I would also want to congratulate Mr Isaac Dobgoe, the newest World Boxing Organisation Super Bantamweight Champion, who happens to be a Ghanaian. Mr Speaker, sports must be taken seriously in this country. Everybody cannot become a lawyer, a banker, an accountant, et cetera. Everybody has a God-given talent. Unfortunately, as a nation, we have not tapped into the talents of these young ones at the various stages. That is why unemployment has become a very serious issue in this country. If we, as a nation, begin to see sports as a tool to develop our young talents, these people would create their own jobs and would not depend on the Government to look for jobs. For that matter, I was also happy when the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports enumerated some of the activities he had started in his outfit. Hon Governs Agbodza, my Hon Colleague from Adaklu, confirmed that they have started a new pitch in his area, which would promote and develop the talents of the youth in this country. Mr Speaker, I would also want to congratulate Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh for making Statements to commemorate the AU. We would be 55 years, come tomorrow, and we have come a long way. The impulse of coming together was to liberate us politically. I say without any contradiction that, every African country today is politically independent. The sovereignty of these countries are not in doubt. Mr Speaker, but the greatest challenge we have is economic liberation. I have heard quite a good number of Hon Colleagues talk about it. We have to liberate ourselves economically to be able to deal with the chronic unemployment and poverty we are all challenged with and the crime wave across Africa we all talk about. Our economic liberation should solve these problems for us. We cannot continue to depend on other people to solve our problems for us. I think that economically, Africans need to do better. Mr Speaker, I would beg to quote something from page 2 of the Statement of our Hon Colleague, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, which has to do with Agenda 2063: “The guiding vision for Agenda 2063 is the AU vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.” Mr Speaker, it tells us that we cannot develop when we continue to ask people to come in with their resources. We need, as Africans, to use our own people. I am happy this is the vision. So I can proudly say that if somebody says that we need to build Ghana beyond aid, that person is not far from the truth. We need to develop and build Ghana, and an Africa beyond aid, so that at the end of the day, we could be proud of ourselves.
Thank you, Hon Members. I am surprise sometimes, when our Hon Colleagues versed in sports easily forget about one of the greatest boxers, Mr D. K. Poison of our times. It is not
only today. Even on the airwaves, when you hear them eulogise the greatest boxers in our country, they forget to mention Mr D. K. Poison - the pound for pound pugilist. He did a lot to motivate many of these latter day saints to come into boxing. So, please, do not let us forget him. Hon Members, but we should not try to also marginalise the impact of colonialism. There are some legacies that they left which would take a long time. There is some literature to show that corruption is one of the legacies that was left by colonialism. One of our Hon Colleagues in the House of Commons said that in 1835 when he visited Africa, he could not find dishonesty, corruption and that kind of thing anywhere in Africa - in the year 1835. And he stated clearly what they had to do to capture our minds. So when the Hon Member talks about paralyses of leadership, that is a symptom, it is not the cause. The cause is education. We all know that intelligence rules the world, and ignorance carries the burden - that is what is happening to Africa. So it is true that we need a new African; a new Ghanaian. Our first President did say remarkably, how that new African or new Ghanaian should be. A dedicated, modest, honest, informed person; a person who abhors greed and deters vanity. A new type of man or woman whose humility is his strength and whose integrity is his or her greatness. We need that; we are yet to find that. So what we have in Ghana and in Africa now -- we have too many talkers but too few doers. So we keep on talking and we end up achieving nothing. It is because this is a Statement that I am contributing to, I have not descended into the arena of conflict. Hon Members, I would now depend on the guidance of Leadership - Hon Deputy Majority Whip, what is the indication?
Mr Speaker, the indication is that, it is past 2.00 o'clock so we are in your hands at this moment.
Mr Speaker, we have no objection; we are in your hands as it is past 2.00 o'clock now.
The House was adjourned at 2.36 p.m. till Tuesday, 29th May, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.