President Nana Akufo-Addo
PRESIDENT AKUFO-Addo thinks the best way for the continent of Africa to develop is not just to trade among itself, but to pool its resources together.
He believes that is the first step towards development since it creates a bigger market opportunity to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to boost intra-African trade.
This was when he spoke at the closing of a three-day maiden Africa Prosperity Dialogue series at the Peduase Lodge in the Eastern Region over the weekend.
He, therefore, urged leaders on the African continent to work with a sense of urgency to guarantee economic security and prosperity for citizens, with a call on African political and business leaders, as well as other strategic stakeholders to harness the opportunity presented by the AfCFTA.
That, he said, was because the collective desire to transform the African continent necessitated “quick wins as well as concentrated focus” on the steps towards the prosperity of Africa.
“We in Africa must with a sense of urgency work together to guarantee the economic security and secure the prosperity of our peoples.
“To accomplish this shared objective, African political and business leaders, as well as other strategic stakeholders should use the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA agreement to boost intra-African trade in order to enhance the productive capacity and strengthen its resilience to external shocks,” he stressed.
Dubbed the ‘Kwahu Summit’, the first of the annual dialogues brought together Africa’s political and business leaders to discuss intra-Africa trade, with a focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The series, an initiative of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), was on the theme: “AfCFTA: From Ambition to Action, Delivering Prosperity through Continental Trade.”
The summit deliberated towards building a strong and effective single market of Africa’s 1.3 billion people to help create more opportunities for its citizens and build a more prosperous Africa.
With the AfCFTA targeting the elimination of tariffs on 97 per cent of goods traded within the African continent, President Akufo-Addo noted that the offering presented a significant opportunity for businesses to set up and expand in Africa.
“While we recognise the enormous challenges we may face, it is the smart actions that we take, the investments we make in our people, and the speed and effectiveness in implementing the common African market that will guarantee that the 1.3 billion people who call this continent home can enjoy a prosperous and fulfilling life,” he stressed.
The President, however, noted that there was a great deal to be done to realise the full benefits of intra-African trade.
Africa, he said, needed to invest in productive capacity and physical infrastructure.
He thus stressed the need for the continent to improve its business and investment climate and look to value addition and promotion of economics of scale. It should scale up efforts to mobilise domestic resources to support its development agenda, including the productive sectors.
President Akufo-Addo emphasised the need to pay serious attention to, and, arrest illicit financial outflows from the continent, which are estimated about some 88 billion dollars annually, depriving Africa of significant resources that could be used to support our development agenda.
“We must urgently and collectively institute comprehensive and unambiguous tax policies to combat tax-motivated illicit financial flows, strengthen legal and law enforcement systems and bring together national agencies to stem such flows,” he said.
Apart from that, he said “we need concrete measures to stop the systemic impoverishment of our continent and the theft of its resources.”
The President also stressed the need for Africa to invest and harness in the area of technology and innovation to transform economic structures and its educational systems.
He said it is imperative for Africa to build technology and trade policy convergencies and to adopt new approaches to sustain technological and market competitiveness.
“We must now with great zeal and fortitude back this great ambition with our collective action to harness fully the benefits of a liberalised single market for goods and services, this must be our solemn and moral obligation to our continent, to our children and future generations,” he said, whilst insisting “we cannot afford to fail, as African nations, we must join hands with each other and work diligently to pursue this noble cause.”
BY Charles Takyi-Boadu