African leaders have been advised to adopt pragmatic strategies in the utilisation of the continent’s natural resources to improve the living standards of the people.
Former German President Horst Kohler, who gave the advice in Accra, said Africa had huge potentials to grow with existence of its numerous natural resources, and increasingly needed on international markets and would provide great source of economic prosperity for Africans.
He was delivering an inaugural lecture on the theme: “Walking the Tight Rope: Balancing State, Market and Society” as part of the launching activities of John A. Kufuor Foundation.
The Foundation, an initiative of former President Kufuor, consists of the John A. Kufuor Centre for Leadership, Governance and Development, to be based at the University of Ghana, Legon, and the John A. Kufuor Presidential Library and Museum at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, former Ministers of State during the NPP administration, the CPP leadership led by Ms Samia Yaba Nkrumah, National Chairperson were among the personalities who attended the function.
The packed Great Hall of University of Ghana, Legon, expressed joy and welcomed former President Rawlings who accompanied President Kufuor into the Hall with a deafening noise, and President Rawlings with his usual gesticulation responded and took time to shake hands with those who stretched their hands to greet him.
The presence of President Rawlings, however, overshadowed the other dignitaries because the audience continued their ecstasy anytime his name was mentioned during the introduction of dignitaries, a gesture that portrayed his charisma in Ghanaian politics.
President Kohler said natural resources could be a blessing but most often turned out to be a curse therefore, old and new international players like China were competing to secure Africa’s resources for their economic development, while some were contemplating about a new scramble for Africa.
“In history, too often abundant natural resources did not become a blessing but rather a curse. The reasons being that of often corrupt leaderships and developed countries having their share of the responsibility when they seize profits from unequal contracts and corruption as well,” he added.
President Kohler said there was the need for Africa to ensure good governance as a crucial stage, where a strong and fair legal system, effective anti-corruption policy and free media could perform effectively.
He noted that extraction industries, which generated steady flow of money into the national budget, were not enough and stressed that up and downstream industries as well as infrastructure should be developed to create more added value for Africa’s growth.
President Kohler pointed out that sustainable growth needed a culture of private entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises were true engines for job creation, which should be encouraged and supported to create jobs for the youths.
He said Norway had made good use of her natural resources and commended Ghana for emulating Norway in terms of natural resources management, saying “Ghana can be an African success story by rather going the Norwegian way instead of Nigeria”.
President Kohler commended President Kufuor for the Foundation and reiterated that the Kufour Centre of Excellence should remain non-partisan since the presence of former President Rawlings gave credence to its establishment which was non-degree awarding.