President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the time has come for Africa and Europe to establish a sustainable, strategic partnership based on trade and investment co-operation and the exchange of value-added transactions.
This, according to him, “would obviate the resort to aid, which has not achieved its purpose.”
The President made the call on Monday when he addressed the “Focus Africa 2023” Conference held in Madrid, Spain. The Conference defines Spanish foreign action in Africa until 2023 and forms part of the Spain’s foreign action Strategy from 2021 to 2024.
The strategy includes the specific actions the Spanish government intends taking with key stakeholders in Africa, including Ghana. It is aligned with the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that a very important plank of the new strategic partnership between Africa, Spain and Europe would be the strong support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which would link all the 54 markets of Africa, gathering 1.2 billion people, into a single market.
“It is the world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itself. By 2050, it will cover an estimated 2.5 billion people, and have over a quarter of the world’s working age population.
“Imagine the investment and business opportunities offered by the infrastructure required to link our markets more effectively. And imagine the business opportunities that this huge market would offer for manufacturing and services firms from Spain and Europe that could establish production facilities in Africa to serve the African markets,” he said.
The President stressed that enormous growth would be chalked as the result of the continental arrangement saying, “the market opportunities for exporters from Spain and Europe could be truly amazing!”
He reiteratre the commitment of African leaders to chart a new path of trade and investment co-operation with the rest of the world.
President Akufo-Addo said it was disheartening to acknowledge, that, with Africa’s possession of a vast endowment of resources, both human and natural, its youth did not see a future in their respective countries, and were willing to cross the Sahara Desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate bid to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe.
“It is eloquent testimony to the inability of the current structures of African economies – producing and exporting raw materials, importing manufactured goods and services from Europe and elsewhere – to generate the numbers of decent, well-paying jobs that Africa’s youths crave,” he said, stressing that Africa, Spain and the rest of Europe must establish a sustainable and more beneficial partnership for the mutual benefit of the people of the two continents.
The President also harped on the need for increased global co-operation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to co-operate more, and we need to co-operate smartly. In the midst of all the complexities of the 21st century, our interdependence requires such co-operation. So, I applaud Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for convening “Focus Africa 2023”, and for the brilliance of the Plan Africa III initiative,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo told the Conference that in spite of the havoc wrecked by the pandemic, his Government was pursuing accelerated economic development through improved macroeconomic management, improved domestic revenue mobilisation emanating from reforms in public revenue policy and administration, creation of conducive environments for businesses to flourish, tackling corruption and curbing excessive bureaucratic procedures.
“We are ensuring that all our children have unfettered access to education through our Free Senior High School policy, we are moving towards attaining Universal Health Coverage for all Ghanaians through the National Health Insurance Scheme, we are processing more and more of our raw materials through our 1-District-1-Factory initiative, we have become a net exporter of food under our programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, and we are determined to move Ghana to a situation beyond aid.
“We have set our sights high, and, to our friends in Spain and Europe, I urge you to join us in building a continent of prosperity and societies of equal opportunities for all,” he said.