Africa Needs to Transform – Ghana’s President

by Kofi Ayim

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has suggested that Africa can and must build a strong con- tinent that is self-sufficient to sustain and wean itself off benevolent and foreign aid, else the full realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be a mirage. He added that, as a member of the Advocacy Group of the SDGs, his duty is to help mobilize political support for the realization of the seventeen sustainable development goals, which include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, ‘making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests. “But the full implementation of the goals in Africa,” he emphasized, “cannot be realized with mindsets of dependency. Current economic structures of production and export of raw materials must be changed so Africa can wean itself off foreign aid and dependence. Africa needs to transform stagnant jobless economies built on the export of raw materials and unrefined goods in order to lift its citizens out of dire poverty,” he suggested.

He said Africa must be able to finance itself, adding, “We cannot be doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” He opined that promotion and liberalization of trade policies between and among African countries is a necessary tool for development. He decried the current rate of trade be- tween African nations as woefully inadequate, calling for it to increase to its fullest potential. He philosophized that Africa can be economi- cally and financially viable if trade between its nations is vigorously pursued. He pointed out that a free African market would facilitate socioeconomic growth and enhance quality of life for Africans. Nana Addo Dankwa called for new breed of selfless and democratic-minded African leaders to chart the way forward, and confront acute challenges that have bedeviled the continent for the past several decades. The fifth president of Ghana’s Fourth Republic made these observations at the Kapuscinski Development Lecture & World Leaders Series at the Fifth International Conference on Sustainable Development held at the Roone Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall, Columbia University, New York City, September 18, 2017. Citing Ghana and the Ivory Coast as examples, he said the two countries produce more than 60% of the world’s cocoa. In 2015, the combined yield of cocoa from these West African neighbors was about $5.75 billion while the yield of chocolate, a by-prod- uct of cocoa, was over $100 billion. “This is not right,” he emphasized. We must be able to process our raw materials to maximize economic potentials and developments.

Touching on his country, Nana Akufo-Addo pointed out that, hitherto, about 100,000 students had been unable to enter senior high schools each year for lack of tuition fee and other indices of academic support. His government, he said, launched a free education program for high school freshmen across the country last month, nine months after his New Patriotic Party government had assumed the helm of affairs in Ghana. He quickly added, however, that 36,000 students were unable to enter senior high school on academic grounds and have been given another opportunity to retake the entrance examination next year. He observed that his government has embarked on prudent measures to stem interest rates, stabilize the currency, cut taxes, and reduce bureaucratic bottleneck and red-tapeism to stimulate and facilitate economic growth in the private sector and restore confidence among Ghanaians. These interventions, the President hopes, will shift the emphasis on taxes to one on production to create wealth for the people of Ghana, especially the burgeoning youth.

The President said that free education for all Ghanaians would come to fruition by 2030. He said his government is on the verge of fully resus- citating the National Health Insurance Scheme, which was started by President Kuf- four but shifted into a coma- tose mode under the immediate past government. “It (the NHIS) will work again,” he assured his listen- ers. The event was moderated by Ms. Femi Oke.

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