President Nana Akufo-Addo has stated that African countries would have to change the structure of their economies, from raw material dependent economies to industrialised and value-added economies.
He believes an industrialised economy would enable Africa to fully finance the implementation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to him, several countries on the continent, including Ghana, are taking steps towards converting the 17 SDGs into concrete outcomes for their peoples, with the conviction that they cannot expect others to do it for them.
With the implementation of the SDGs agenda set to cost between $3.5 trillion to 5.0 trillion per year, and with the news that aid to Africa will be cut significantly by the current US administration, President Akufo-Addo stressed that “Africa must be efficient and effective not only in mobilising resources, but also looking beyond the benevolence of others to finance implementation of the SDGs agenda.”
He noted that “We are a continent reliant on foreign aid, despite economic growth in parts of Africa significantly outpacing the global average. Truth be told, the full implementation of the SDGs in Africa cannot be done with a mindset of dependence.”
President Akufo-Addo said this Monday, when he delivered the keynote address at the 5th International Conference on Sustainable Development, at an auditorium of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York.
The President stated that the first priority of African countries, to this end, must be to change the structures of the economies on the continent, which are dependent largely on the production and export of raw materials, adding that it is this reliance on raw material exports that feeds our dependence on foreign aid, and subjects us to the politics of the West.
Citing the example of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which produce nearly 60% of the world’s cocoa and yet earned, in total, in 2015, only $5.75 billion out of the $100 billion chocolate market, the President stressed that such scenarios can no longer continue.
“We certainly cannot finance the vision of building sustainable development on the continent with such scenarios. There can be no future prosperity for our peoples, in the short, medium or long term, if we continue to maintain economic structures that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials,” he said.
The President continued, “We must add value to our resources, and we must industrialise. Unless we do so, we cannot finance on our own the full implementation of the SDGs. The agenda surely has to be an Africa Beyond Aid.”
Ghana, a case study
It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that his government has introduced measures to stimulate the private sector, through the introduction of a monetary policy that is stabilising the currency, reducing interest rates, and reducing significantly the cost of borrowing, in addition to a raft of tax cuts to bring relief to and encourage businesses.
It is the competitiveness of Ghanaian enterprises, particularly in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, he added, that will determine Ghana’s capacity to create wealth for her youth and women, and wealth in our society, and the sustainable development of the country.
“The competitiveness of Ghana’s private sector is key to addressing issues of inclusion, economic development and growth of Ghana. That is the way to building a self-reliant Ghana, with a strong economy, capable of generating jobs and prosperity for the mass of her people,” he added.
This process of economic and industrial transformation, he added, is going along with the most basic elements of social justice are met, i.e. Free Senior High School education, and the revitalization of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Africa must follow suit
In a similar vein, President Akufo-Addo noted that “we need to build an Africa that is able to look after her peoples through intelligent management of the resources with which she has been endowed and embark on a new path.
This path offers a new Africa. It is an Africa that will be defined by integrity, sovereignty, common belief, discipline, and shared values. It is one where we aim to be masters of our own destiny and establish an Africa Beyond Aid.”
The success of the Continental Free Trade Area on the African continent, he was confident, will present immense opportunities to bring prosperity to the continent with hard work, enterprise and creativity, stressing that “a working, common continental market has to be a very fundamental objective of all peoples and governments on the continent.”
To guarantee an Africa Beyond Aid, President Akufo-Addo noted that Africa must breed a new generation of leaders who, amongst others, “are looking past commodities to position their countries in the global marketplace; leaders who are determined to free their peoples from a mindset of dependence, aid, charity and hand-outs; leaders who are bent on mobilizing Africa’s own immeasurable resources to resolve Africa’s problems.”
This new generation of African leaders, the President added, must “help bring dignity and prosperity to our continent and its people.”