President Akufo-Addo says the urgent responsibility facing leaders on the continent is to make Africa attractive so African youths see the continent as a place of opportunities.
With the continent having the youngest population, President Akufo-Addo noted that “our youth who bear the brunt of the suffering now resort to desperate measures to get out.”
He said this on Thursday when he delivered the keynote address at an event on transformative governance in Africa, organised by the Kukah Centre, in Abuja, Nigeria.
He lamented how African youths “brave the Sahara desert on foot, and those who survive the ravages of the desert, risk being sold in slave markets in Libya.
President Akufo-Addo was unhappy how the youth take risky “journeys across the Mediterranean sea on rickety boats, all in the forlorn hope of a better life in Europe, in countries and amongst people where they are obviously not welcome.”
To this end, President changed African leaders that “we must provide education, education and education. It means our young people must acquire the skills that run modern economies…When they are skilled, they would not have to risk drowning in the Mediterranean sea, they would be headhunted and treated with dignity.”
Reiterating the point he made in Dakar, Senegal, some two weeks ago, at a special conference called to raise monies to fund education in Africa.
He stated that there is enough money in Africa to pay for educating and training young people on the continent and make them ready to face the world of the 21st century.
Akufo-Addo with Nigerian ex-Prez Gen Yakubu Gowon
Referring to the report of the panel chaired by the highly respected former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, on the illicit flow of funds (IFFs) from Africa, it was revealed that Africa is losing, annually, more than $50 billion through illicit financial outflows.
The report added further that, between 2000 and 2008, $252 billion, representing 56.2%, of the illicit flow of funds from the continent was from the extractive industries, including mining.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the purpose for the launch of the Free SHS policy in Ghana, in September 2017, was to ensure that all Ghanaian children attain a minimum of senior high school education, adding that it is the only way we can create an educated workforce to accelerate the process of development.
“I hesitate to prescribe policy initiatives for other countries, but, on the matter of education, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending that all African countries adopt the policy of free compulsory education from kindergarten to senior high school.
“This is one of the most important things we have to do if we are to make the transformation from our current state of poverty to prosperity,” President Akufo-Addo noted.
He emphasised that no one is going to sort out matters for Africa, except Africans themselves.
“We must match those who come to do business with us, in all the skills they possess. We must have our own set of bright and sharp lawyers, our own set of bright and sharp accountants, to keep us abreast with the sharp and bright lawyers and accountants that our trade partners have,” he said.
The President continued, “In much the same way, we need to have our own bright and sharp technologists to keep us abreast with our competitors.”
Industrialisation, increase in trade
In addition to the provision of education, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the time is long overdue for Africa to take a deep look at the structures of her economies, which have, over the years, been dependent on the production and export of raw materials.
“The era of Africa’s industrialisation has dawned so that we can also trade in the world economy, not on the basis of exports of raw materials, but on the basis of things we make,” he said.
Additionally, President Akufo-Addo indicated that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade are located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade.
With trade between African regions remaining low compared to other parts of the world, the President noted that the time for African integration should be now.
“Hence, the importance of the success of the Continental Free Trade Area. A working, common continental market has to be a very fundamental objective of all peoples and governments on the continent.
“The decision the AU is about to take in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, on 21st March, at its Extraordinary Summit, for Member States to sign and launch the treaty for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area is one of the most important decisions the AU will ever take. It is vital that the treaty works, and that the Continental Free Trade Area becomes an immediate reality,” he said.