President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has exhorted African leaders and citizens to work to make the continent attractive for the youth.
He said when the enabling conditions are created for Africa’s teeming youth, they would see the continent as a place of opportunities, wealth and prosperity.
“The irony is that Africa should really not be in this conundrum. There are good reasons why we should be able to get ourselves out of the hole and onto the path of hope and prosperity. Indeed, the future is African, and properly so.”
President Akufo-Addo made the call at a public lecture at Princeton University in New Jersey, United States of America, at the weekend.
He said Africa was endowed with tremendous natural resources that could form the base for processing industries and allied downstream manufacturing industries.
“There can be no argument that, properly harnessed, and efficiently and honestly managed, there are abundant resources on the continent to finance Africa’s development.”
The President said with Africa possessing over half of the world’s uncultivated arable land, sustained investment in Africa’s agriculture and the application of technology, especially digital technology, could yield enormous benefits for the African and global economies in the provision of food stuffs, and diversified, agro-based economic activities.
“Food security for the African peoples would be assured, and the billions currently spent on the importation of food would be freed to spend on other sectors like the serious deficit in infrastructure,” President Akufo-Addo said.
President Akufo-Addo said Africa’s youthful and growing labour force, estimated to constitute a third of the world’s population by 2050, was the catalyst for the speedy renewal of the continent.
“The empowerment of this young population, with access to education and skills training, would constitute a very powerful tool for economic development in Africa and the world,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that as a result of growing industrialisation and the emerging structural transformation of African economies, African countries are becoming more involved in the high-end of the global value chain, trading in both final and intermediate manufacturing products. Under these assumptions, by 2030, we could be talking of an African export market of some $3 trillion!
“You don’t need to be an optimist to acknowledge that Africa is where there is room for growth and the future is, indeed, African,” he added.
With the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will all the 54 markets, covering 1.2 billion people, into a single market, it will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“The Continental Free Trade Area will provide the vehicle for us to trade among ourselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner; it will offer a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of all our people; and it would give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocks,” he said.
“I must add that it is a matter of great pride for us that Ghana has been selected by her peers to play host to the Secretariat of the AfCFTA, the first time in our nation’s history we have been given the privilege and responsibility of hosting an important pan-African institution.”
The President was insistent that for this free trade area to be viable, there must be peace and stability on the continent.
“For a continent, hitherto, plagued by conflict, we have resolved to end all wars by 2020, and silence the guns. This is an ambitious target, but we are determined to employ all means to realise it. Nothing undermines the possibilities of our continent more than being known as unstable, and, unfortunately, our politics has been the main source of the spark for instability,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was confident that Africa, in possession of the requisite manpower, resources, and the political will, will work.
“It is time to translate the vision we have for the continent into prosperity. It is time to make the project of continental unification and integration real, and construct the progressive and developed Africa, which has been the perennial dream of Pan-Africanists through the ages,” he added.