We've restored fiscal discipline - Akufo-Addo at Tokyo conference
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the government has, over the course of the last two and a half years, succeeded in restoring fiscal discipline in the management of the economy, resulting in the macroeconomic indices pointing in the right direction.
According to him, the favourable macroeconomic situation prevailing in the country was a firm indication of his government’s commitment to the creation of a conducive business atmosphere needed for the private sector to flourish.
"We have restored fiscal discipline, our macroeconomic indices are pointing in the right direction, we have implemented tax cuts and incentives to stimulate the rapid growth of the private sector and we are projected, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to be the fastest-growing economy in the world this year," he said.
Speaking at the plenary session of the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7) in Yokohama, Japan, yesterday, the President noted that Ghana, and, indeed, Africa, “must emulate the story of the East Asian Miracle” if the potential of the country and the continent was to be realised.
He indicated that the East Asian Miracle saw, from 1965 to 1990, the 23 countries of East Asia, especially Japan, growing faster than all the regions in the world, largely because of their belief in the primacy of the private sector and the critical support they offered to the sector to ensure it survived and thrived.
“We in Ghana are taking steps to put our country onto a similar path. Maintaining a stable macroeconomy is fundamental to attracting private sector investment,” President Akufo-Addo told the gathering, which included the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Shinzo Abe, and the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres.
That, he stressed, had led “to some of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturing companies signaling their intention to set up assembly plants in the country, with global energy giants investing in the development of our considerable oil and gas deposits, and the establishment of the first Artificial Intelligence Centre in Africa by Google in Ghana. Their decision to operate in Ghana is for good reason”.
Dozens of African leaders and officials from a range of international organisations have gathered in Yokohama for the three-day summit.
TICAD is a summit -level international conference that focuses on development in Africa and the seventh edition is focusing primarily on the three pillars of economy, society and peace and security.
Created in 1993 by the government of Japan, the conference promotes policy dialogue between leaders of African countries and the development partners on pressing issues facing Africa, such as economic development, poverty and conflict.
The conference in Yokohama is being co-organised by the government of Japan, the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
It is on the theme: "Advancing Africa's development through people, technology and innovation”.
President Akufo-Addo, like other speakers at the plenary session, was given three minutes to make a statement.
Although the time allotted for the statement was short, the President appeared to have carefully selected his points and hit the nail right on the head.
He said the private sector played a key role in national development and that, similar to what the East Asian giants did, Ghana was allowing the private sector to take centre stage in its development process.
While stressing that the people of Africa lived in poverty, in the midst of plenty, the President said: "If we are to meet the aspirations and desires of our young population for jobs, progress and prosperity, then the structural transformation of African economies should no longer be postponed."
"It is time we also traded in the world economy, not on the basis of raw materials but on the basis of the things we make and grow," he added.
New security initiative
Mr Abe, who opened the conference, touched on some critical areas where Japan was working with Africa to bring about prosperity and said it was not a mistake for Japan to have introduced TICAD.
He said Japan had introduced a new security initiative to drive peace and security in Africa, explaining that the initiative, the New Approach for Peace and Stability in Africa (NAPSA), would see Japan work with the African Union (AU) and Africa’s regional economic groupings to support conflict prevention and mediation efforts.
"NAPSA will also assist in making governance and administration and legislative systems stable and secure, so that nation building does not move backward as a result of conflict," Mr Abe told the gathering.
He said while long-term prospects of the continent were promising, armed conflicts and violent extremism were significant obstacles to continent-wide sustainable development.
"Africa needs peace for its development and I call for enhanced partnership in support of the AU's ‘silencing the guns’ initiative," he said
Technology and innovation
While emphasising the need for Africa to adopt technology and innovation as drivers of development, the Prime Minister said investment in the sector was a major priority for Japan.
"Technology and innovation are central to unleashing Africa’s vast potential and realising the shared vision of leaving no one behind," he stated.
"I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunities where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger," he added.
Mr Abe said since TICAD 6, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016, Africa had made sustainable progress in education, conflict resolution, removing gender inequality and regional integration.
However, there was much more work to be done to enhance education, science and technology to meet the challenges of the 21st century, he noted.
"Lack of sufficient investment in education, science and technology, engineering and mathematics can hold back Africa's growth," the Prime Minister noted.
Consequently, he posited: "It is imperative that we work together to close the digital divide and take profit from the technological advances to enable African nations and the economies to prosper."
He expressed concern over the surge in diabetes cases in Africa and called for concerted efforts to fight the disease.
He said Africa needed a range of health-related infrastructure, such as water and sewerage services, as well as nutritional interventions to reduce stunting.
"At the Global Nutrition Summit to be held in Tokyo next year, the Japanese government will launch the African health and well-being initiatives. This will be an attempt at making it possible for the knowledge and technology Japan has built up to be transferred to the countries of Africa," Mr Abe said.
For his part, Mr Guterres hailed Japan for the strides it was making to improve living conditions in African countries.
The Egyptian President, Mr Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, who is also the AU Chairman, in his remarks, said Japan-Africa relations had seen significant growth over the years and that the future looked even brighter.