Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, immediate-past President of the ECOWAS Commission has said that the sub-region would not meet the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline.
He said despite progress in some areas, poverty levels were still unacceptably high in the region posing a threat to the stability of nations.
“The continent has been experiencing a steady growth rate of between four per cent and five per cent, falling short of the target of between eight per cent and nine per cent expected to reduce extreme hunger by 2015”, he said.
He therefore called on African students to demand of their leaders, radical changes in their approach to doing things and true transformation of society to ensure that all enjoyed better lifestyle.
Dr Chambas, who earlier this year was elected Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, said this when he took his turn to address the 19th Alumni Celebrity Platform organized by the Alumni Association of the Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, on Saturday.
The Alumni Celebrity Platform is an interactive platform that the Mensah Sarbah Hall, also known as Vikings, has instituted to enable a former student of the hall to interact with the current students and share his or her experiences with them.
Dr Chambas was a member of the Mensah Sarbah Hall during his days as a student at the University of Ghana from 1970 to 1973, and graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
He said some countries which had little or no natural endowments had been able to reduce poverty, but Africa with all its natural minerals resources is yet to make an impact in that area, adding that, this should interest African students to research and offer constructive ideas and seek better management of resources for the good of the continent.
The MDGs is a set of eight goals, including eradication of extreme hunger, empowering women, provision of health and education facilities, reducing maternal mortality and ensuring education for all children, which is to be achieved by 2015.
They were adopted at the United Nations Summit in the year 2000, dubbed the Millennium Summit by governments of the world to implement policies towards achieving them.
He told the students that “it does not matter which discipline you study but what you can do to better and contribute towards transforming society”, and urged them to remain focused to achieve their aspirations saying “it can be done”.
He said “it is not the amount of a country’s resources that will make her develop but the knowledge and innovativeness of her people” and called on students to acquire new skills to become knowledge-based to be able to catch up with the rest of the world.
On the continental front, Dr Chambas called for an effective development of cross-border infrastructure, such as roads, railways and telecommunication facilities, to ensure true integration of the sub-regional economies.
He said even though much work was done, poor cross-border infrastructural development had been limiting trade among countries on the continent, adding that, the total trade volume among African countries was between just 13 per cent and 15 per cent, while the continent also enjoyed just two per cent of Foreign Direct Investment.
He called on African governments to harmonize, especially trade policies, to enhance economic activities among nations and ensure stronger integration and business development on the continent.
He said the world was moving from a bi-polar to multi-polar one, an indication of changing trends in foreign policy and called for closer collaboration to move the continent from the third world status to a more appreciable level.
Dr Chambas stressed the need for political stability and prudent economic policy management to enhance the continent’s development.
He commended the University of Ghana for maintaining high academic standards and called on the authorities at Legon to shape the future of the nation.
“If this fails, we will be harming the future of the nation” he said.
Professor Kwesi Yankah, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana urged students to draw lessons from the experiences of Dr Chambas, to shape their careers.
Dr James Adomako, Hall Master, Mensah Sarbah Hall, expressed gratitude to Dr Chambas for addressing the hall.
The occasion was climaxed with the usual camaraderie of the Okponglo Republic, a “gyama” or revolutionary singing group of the Hall, which gave Dr Chambas a 12 gun salute, amidst singing and dancing as a welcome tribute.