African economies should pursue value addition in their quest to industrialise, as the imperative would create the needed employment and improve the people’s living standards, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
“Raw material producing economies do not create prosperity for their people. The way to that goal, the goal of ensuring access to prosperity, is value addition activities in a transformed and a diversified modern economy,” he said.
The President who is on a three-day official State Visit to Zambia, re-echoed the view, when speaking on the theme: “Innovation for Industrialisation”, at the opening of the 53rd Zambia International Trade Fair on Thursday.
President Akufo-Addo stated that owing to that belief, his government was championing a flagship programme dubbed: “One District, One factory”, through public-private partnerships, to establish at least one industrial enterprise in each of the 216 districts of Ghana.
This is to ensure that Ghana no longer becomes a retailer of cheap imported goods.
“The establishment of these factories will mean that each district becomes an economic growth pole, the centre for the creation of jobs, and, thereby, halt the phenomenon of rural-urban migration of our nation’s youth,” he added.
However, the process of value-addition to Africa’s raw materials, the President said: “Starts with adding value to our human capital through an education system that provides every child with the skills to realize their full potential.”
Africa, he explained, needs a confident, educated workforce to be able to compete effectively in the global economy.
“This is why, for my part, I have made education one of the foundations of my vision to build a knowledge-based, industrialised economy in Ghana. Access to free, universal, quality, basic education is the key to participation in the new global economy,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that Africa’s hope for prosperity and attaining a proper place among the comity of nations remained unfulfilled, largely as a result of failed leadership.
“You could, if you were so minded, look on the extent of the problems that face our continent and region and feel overwhelmed. We should not be. These problems, in my view, present us, in Africa, with opportunities to bring progress and development to our continent,” he said.
“With the aid of science and technology, the promotion of enterprise, innovation and creativity, and the spread of democratic values, we can construct a new era of prosperity for all the peoples of Africa.”
President Akufo-Addo also expressed the crucial importance of small and medium scale enterprises to the economies of Africa, with nearly 95 per cent of all businesses on the continent being small-scale enterprises.
“They are the heartbeat of our economy, and are at the core of Africa’s private sector. In every city, town, village or hamlet in our respective countries, these small and medium scale enterprises support the livelihoods of our communities.
“At the national level, they contribute significantly to our gross domestic product and taxes. Indeed, the survival of most countries on the continent is directly anchored in the success of small and medium-scale enterprises,” he added.
The President said this would promote access to digital technology for SMEs, particularly for the youth, which ripple effects would lead to huge economic gains in the shortest possible time.
He reiterated his conviction that Africa could engineer its transition from poverty to prosperity in a generation.
“We are determined to do that in our generation, and ensure that succeeding generations will be neither victims nor pawns of the international economic order,” he added.