President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the next generation of African leaders to seek peace and strive for prosperity, for the long-suffering masses on the continent.
“If we are going to build prosperous countries, we should have peace and those who would lead Africa must seek and cherish peace,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made the call in a keynote address he delivered at the 27th Africa Peace Leadership Awards last Saturday at the California State University in Sacramento, California. The awards ceremony was organised by the Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Following the pervasive spread of poverty which is Africa’s biggest problem and one that is likely to become its biggest security threat, President Akufo-Addo stressed that Africa needed to have peace to be able to deal with this debilitating problem.
“As it is often said, “l’argent n’aime pas le bruit” (money does not like noise), and, indeed, we would all agree that where there is chaos and noise and unrest, you are not likely to find money or widespread prosperity that will enable the longsuffering masses of Africans live lives of dignity,” he said.
Discard dependency mindset
The President called on African leaders to have more self-confidence and accept that, “we shall never reach the level of development that we aspire to by relying on aid or external assistance no matter how generous. It is a mindset that I wish us to discard; a mindset of dependency and living on handouts. It is unhealthy both for the giver and for the recipient.”
He said the next generation of African leaders would have to understand that they cannot draw up their national budgets, and expect that a percentage of revenue will be coming from donor nations.
President Akufo-Addo contended that when properly harnessed and efficiently and honestly managed, resources on the African continent which are in abundance could finance its development.
Citing the report on illicit financial outflows authored by a Commission headed by a former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the President said Africa was losing more than $50 billion annually through illicit finances transferred out of the continent and urged the gathering to imagine the implications if Africa ensured that about 50 percent of that amount remained on the continent.
Touching on creating and growing an entrepreneurial economy in Africa, President Akufo-Addo explained that it provided the basis for undertaking the urgent task of having a structural transformation of African economies.
“The next generation of African leaders will have to move away from economies that are largely dependent on the production and export of raw materials to value-added and industrial economies, as well as stimulate greater agricultural productivity with the help of digital technology. This will accelerate economic growth, enable us feed ourselves and create the much needed jobs for our youth”, he said.
This process of structural transformation, he said, would be immeasurably aided by the successful implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which an overwhelming majority of African countries signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, this year. To bring it into effect, 22 more countries would have to ratify it.
The success of the free trade area agreement, he observed, would mean that the era of low volumes of intra-continental trade that have defined the activities of the African economies will come to an end.
President Akufo-Addo noted that an increase in intra-regional trade in Africa was the surest way to develop fruitful relations between the respective countries.
He said it will mean a rapid increase in exchanges in agricultural, financial, industrial, scientific and technological products of the variuos countries, which would enhance the attainment of prosperity and the prospects of employment for the broad masses of Africans, particularly our youth.
“Our economies would then be shaped not by the production and export of raw materials, but by the things we make,” he said.
While urging African leaders to protect their environment, President Akufo-Addo urged them to implement the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, as they represent the most ambitious plan the global community had yet devised to eradicate global poverty.
“There are no group of people with a greater stake in the realisation of the SDGs than the African peoples and for reasons that are self-evident,” he pointed out.
Despite the numerous challenges confronting the continent, President Akufo-Addo stated that Africa was on the cusp of building a great, new civilisation, that will unleash the considerable energies and huge potential of its people, “so that we will make our own unique contribution to the growth of world civilisation.”
President Akufo-Addo was on the occasion presented with the Africa Peace Leadership Award by the Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution of the University.