President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is urging African nations to shed the colonial relic that has seen the continent produce and export raw materials to its disadvantage and instead, seek more productive solutions to her challenges.
He says the thoughts and approaches required to solve the continent’s problems must be different from those that brought about the problems in the first place, stressing the important and positive roles governments must play in spurring industrialization and economic transformation on the continent.
President Akufo-Addo who led Ghana’s delegation to the ongoing UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, was addressing the 2020 Ghana Investment and Opportunity Summit, now in its second year, which seeks to facilitate positive partnerships between Ghanaian and British companies.
The 2020 Ghana Investment and Opportunity Summit is being held under the theme: Accessing the African Common Market through Ghana: Technology, Digitisation & Industrialisation.
The President said in addition to creating the enabling atmosphere for the private sector to thrive and create jobs, governments must also ensure that businesses are up and running; promote access to the capital that keeps the wheels of business moving; maintain macro-economic stability; make available public growth, such as an efficient bureaucracy; a strong adherence to the rule of law; and provide a fair and equitable social system in health and education delivery.
He said the Government of Ghana was addressing each one of these problems to ensure that as hosts of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat, Ghana was properly positioned to be the hub of trade in Africa.
The President said when he, on behalf of the government and people of Ghana accepted to host the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra, it signaled the completion of the processes to create the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
He expressed the hope that the AfCFTA secretariat will be up and running by March 2020 so trading can begin in the free trade area by July 2020.
“It also reiterated the desire of the 54 member states of the African Union when they signed agreements for the coming into effect of the AfCFTA to work with a common voice and a common purpose to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of the African peoples.”
President Akufo-Addo expressed conviction that “the success of the AfCFTA” will end the era of low values of intra-regional trade that have defined the activities of African economies, explaining that up till now, “trade between African nations have remained low, compared to other parts of the world.”
He said in the year 2000 for instance, intra-regional trade accounted for 10 per cent of Africa’s total trade and increased to 16 per cent in 2015, while intra-regional trade amongst members of the European Union in 2015 amounted to 70 per cent, Asia at 52 per cent and 50 per cent amongst the nations of North America.
“Surely, an increase in intra-regional trade in Africa is one of the surest ways to promote the progress we seek for Africa. It should guarantee a rapid increase in exchanges of our agricultural, financial, industrial, scientific and technological products. It will enhance dramatically, our attainment of prosperity and the prospects of employment for the African peoples, particularly our youth. Our economies will then be safe, not by the production and export of raw materials but by the things we make and grow.
“Unfortunately for us in Africa, we continue to travel along the wrong path of limited success, of being producers and exporters of raw materials – a relic of our past colonial association. We are now required to think outside the box. Our thinking and approach to solving problems must be different from the thinking and approach that brought about the problems in the first place”, he told the Summit.
President Akufo-Addo said prior to attending the Summit as keynote speaker, he had witnessed the signing of an MOU between the Ghana Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, describing the latter as the most famous and arguably the most successful stock exchange in history.
“Hopefully this partnership will help the rapid growth of our economy and also of our new relations with Britain in the post Brexit era”, he prayed.