President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has told his African colleague heads of state to forget achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if the continent fails to make good use of its youthful population.
He said this in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku-Prempeh, in Accra on Wednesday during the opening ceremony of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE).
The summit, held for the first time in Ghana, was under the theme, “Unlocking the World’s Potential: Leading and Innovating for Quality Education in Africa,” and brought together about 400 global participants.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the SDGs “will require the active participation of the youth, who have the greatest stake in the goals.”
He stressed, “It will require the youth not as spectators, but as principal partners, in helping to achieve the world we want.”
He was of the view that if the African continent “fails to leverage the bountiful energies and the creativity of the youth, achieving the SDGs will remain an illusion.”
President Akufo-Addo indicated, “It is for this reason that shortly, I will be launching an Africa-wide competition on ‘Leveraging innovation to achieve the SGDs’ – an initiative that will target largely the youth, and seek to unlock their energies and their creative potentials to support the accelerated implementation of the goals.”
African youth, the president stated, have so much to offer and lamented, “Over the years, we have not succeeded in creating the optimal environment for them to prosper.”
‘Move Beyond Aid’
He urged African nations to take steps aimed at moving the continent ‘beyond aid.’
“Our continent is blessed with many natural resources. yet the continent remains one of the poorest in the world,” he underscored.
He posited, “As leaders of this continent, we need to put in place robust measures and bankable policies to ensure that our young people stay and contribute to the development of the continent.
He added, “We certainly cannot continue to be dependent on foreign aid. We need to build an Africa beyond aid – an Africa that exemplifies the true spirit of its peoples, working towards a common goal of better existence.”
He warned, “We cannot continue to lose our young men and women due to the unavailability of educational and economic opportunities.”
Touching on the quality of education on the African continent, President Akufo-Addo explained that despite some successes chalked over the years, quality education still remains an illusion for many children in Africa.
“I am left in no doubt that a central element of what must be our strong desire to build the Africa beyond aid begins with quality education. Education is the lifeblood of development and prosperity.It has the greatest multiplier effect in achieving the SDGs.
“We cannot develop this continent with a largely illiterate population. We cannot eliminate poverty if our peoples are uneducated; we cannot fight the woes of hunger and diseases without education and we cannot create economic growth and decent employment opportunities without investing in education,” he observed.