Monday, 21 August 2017

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that with West Africa and Africa’s population set to reach 500 million and 2 billion people in 20 years, respectively, the process of regional and continental integration should be in the interest of all Africans and must no longer stall.

According President Akufo-Addo, West Africa and Africa’s projected populations mean that “genuine regional and continental markets in Africa should be in our mutual economic interests, for these markets will present immense opportunities to bring prosperity to the peoples in our region and continent with hard work, creativity and enterprise”.

Functioning, common regional and continental markets, he added, have to be very fundamental objectives of Ghanaians, Nigerians, and, indeed, of all the peoples and governments in the region and on the continent, objectives that will consolidate the processes of structural transformations of our national economies on which we must be engaged.

“We cannot persist with economic structures that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials, if we are to bring prosperity to the masses of our peoples,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, when he delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of Course 25 participants of Nigeria’s National Defence College, in Abuja, Nigeria.   

The President noted that for a continent that has made the choice of pursuing integration, “we have not done much as we should have in liberalising and promoting trade amongst member countries”.

Indeed, research has shown 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. Trade between African nations remains low compared to other parts of the world.

In 2000, intra-regional trade accounted for 10% of Africa’s total trade, and increased marginally to 11% in 2015. Trading amongst members of the European Union, for example, amounted to 70% in 2015. With these very low levels of trade and investment co-operation in Africa, we must put in place deliberate measures at expanding trade and business collaborations to improve the prospects for prosperity of our peoples.

“For my part, I have made it clear on several occasions, and in the countries I have visited so far in the region and on the continent, that I am willing to do whatever I can to strengthen the ECOWAS and AU communities,” the President said.

He continued, “It is extremely important for the welfare of the 1.2 billion people of the continent that we, the leaders, demonstrate strong political will to make the project of integration, at the regional and continental levels, economic and political successes, and make them realities in the lives of our peoples”.

President Akufo-Addo stressed that if the Ghana and Nigeria consider the benefits of the full implementation of ECOWAS and AU Treaties on trade, free movement of goods and persons, customs, taxation, statistics, money and payments, then the two countries would both benefit in far better ways.

“It surely makes more sense for Nigeria to import its salt from Ghana than from Brazil. When we think of Africa before our own countries, we are not just being pan-Africanists, we are being true nationalists because what makes Africa better will make each of our countries better and more prosperous,” he said.

Follow EU example

President Akufo-Addo noted that nearly seven decades ago, on 9th May, 1950, a few nations of Europe, in response to a proposal from French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, embarked on a new journey.

“When he made the proposal that has today led to the European Union, the European continent was just five years removed from the Second World War; a war that had broken the back of Europe and spilled the blood of so many, including some of our own,” he said.

Today, according to President Akufo-Addo, the European Union has a market of 508 million people or 7.3% of the world population — the world’s third largest population after China and India –, one currency, and the free movement of goods, services and people across twenty-seven countries, albeit with Great Britain having voted to exit the Union, and beginning the processes for BREXIT.

“The EU in 2016 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 16.5 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 23% of nominal global GDP, which is the second largest economy by GDP in the world. The single currency, the EURO, has increased efficiency, lowered the cost of doing business and improved transparency in pricing. The overall effect has been to make Europe a much stronger economic and political player on the world stage,” he said.

Nigeria must provide leadership

President Akufo-Addo noted that West Africa and Africa cannot make the bold transformative changes they need to make without visionary political leadership.

“We need leadership that is focused on the region and continent, and not on individual countries. The European Union took off because the political leadership of France and Germany decided to make it work. Once the political will is evident, we can then work together to make out of ECOWAS and the AU true regional and continental markets,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo was of the view that Nigeria must provide the political leadership and passion to translate the ECOWAS and AU dreams into reality.

“You have the numbers, you have the economic muscle and, dare I say it, you owe it to the region and continent,” he said.

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The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that the successes being chalked as a result of the collaboration taking place amongst countries in West Africa and Africa in the fight against terrorism and armed groups is significant.

According to President Akufo-Addo, countries such as Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin have joined Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram, with the leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, known as the G5 du Sahel, launching a multinational force to fight armed groups in the Sahel region

The co-ordination of activities between the armies and the intelligence agencies these countries, he added, is absolutely essential to a successful battle against terrorism.

“African countries are co-operating in the fight against terrorism and achieving results, and this should spur us on in our collective drive towards an integrated and united Africa,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, when he delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of Course 25 participants of Nigeria’s National Defence College, in Abuja, Nigeria.   

Making reference to the strides made by the European Union (EU), President Akufo-Addo indicated that the EU was given the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”, “transforming most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace”, and the “successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

The President noted that “it is a widely acknowledged fact that the EU has helped prevent war amongst its current members since the end of World War II in 1945. History tells us that Britain, France, Germany and Italy had for centuries waged wars over religion, territory and power.”

He continued, “Thus, the creation of a free market, concealing economic and geographical borders, would erode the justification for using war as the quickest avenue to wealth and power, and lessen its appeal. That was the vision that inspired the idea behind the European Economic Community, now the EU, in 1957.”

President Akufo-Addo, thus, indicated that Africa should be inspired by this, and hasten her efforts towards integration.

“If Europe, through the formation of the EU, was able to stop the vicious cycle of violence that had plagued them for centuries, and lead them onto the path of advancement, wealth and prosperity for all, Africa can no longer dither,” he said.

Ghana, Nigeria must work together

With France and Germany being the keys to the success of the European Union, President Akufo-Addo stated that, in the same vein, Ghana and Nigeria, working together, can be the engine for growth of West Africa and Africa.

“Our respective armed forces have co-operated successfully in joint peacekeeping operations in several conflict situations in the region and on the continent, which have enabled peace and security to be re-established. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Sudan, Somalia, Mali and, most recently Gambia, all come to mind,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged the two countries to “now work together to unleash the energy and ingenuity of the African, and with a market of 1.2 billion people, soon to reach 2 billion, the sky will be the limit. Let us work towards the day when all of us will look to doing business, first in our region and continent, before looking to Europe, Asia or the Americas because we have the men and women, the goods, the services and the quality.”

The way forward, he stressed, is to implement regional and continental decisions, such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the Continental Free Trade Area, recognising that ultimately the benefits are in everyone’s interest.

“Those of us who believe strongly in integration can do no better than to give our full support to regional and continental decisions. Through this, we will build institutional confidence and integrity in the structural organs of ECOWAS and the AU,” he added.

All governments in the region and continent, the President stressed “need to collaborate to ensure that the countries of Africa adhere to and maintain common values of governance, i.e. the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law. Such commonality will facilitate immeasurably the process of bonding amongst the nations of our region and continent.”

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Ghana and Malta have pledged to strengthen the ties of co-operation that exist between the two countries, as well as collaborate further and provide mutual support for each other at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

This was the outcome of a roundtable discussion held between the ministerial teams of Ghana and Malta, on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, as part of events marking the 3-day State Visit to Ghana by the President of Malta, Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

Describing the visit to Ghana by President Marie-Louise Preca as a landmark one, as it is the first time a sitting President from the Republic of Malta is paying a State Visit to Ghana, President Akufo-Addo, in his remarks at a joint press conference with the Maltese President, stated that their discussions bordered on several issues of importance to both countries.

These issues, he stated, included the improvement in the volumes of trade between Ghana and Malta; mutual support for candidates from the two countries vying for positions with international organisations; issues of migration; and the deepening of political consultations on matters of mutual interest to the two countries, amongst others.

President Akufo-Addo noted that his Maltese counterpart and her team have resolved to give voice to Ghana’s cause and interests at the European Union. Ghana, on the other hand, the President stressed will also help to facilitate the provision of a platform for enhanced economic engagement between Malta and the member countries of ECOWAS.

This, according to President Akufo-Addo, should boost the trade volumes, and help bring prosperity to the peoples of Ghana and Malta.

On the matter of reforms of the global political order, President Akufo-Addo made it clear that the inability of the United Nations to undertake the reforms of its institutions that will reflect the realities of our times, and not the realities of the post-war world, represents a manifest injustice against the peoples of Africa.

The Ghanaian team, according to President Akufo-Addo, stressed the importance it attaches to the process of UN Reform, especially of the UN Security Council, as set out in Africa’s Common Position on UN Reform, based on the Ezulwini Consensus, and solicited the support of Malta for this position.

“It is time to correct the longstanding injustice that the current structure and composition of the UN Security Council represent for the nations of Africa. Her Excellency and her delegation shared this sentiment and expressed its desire to collaborate with Ghana to this end,” he added.

It was also agreed that Ghana and Malta extend support to candidates from their respective countries vying for positions in international organisations.

“Ghana has, therefore, given support to Malta’s bid for membership of the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) elections, which take place later this year. Malta, on the other hand, will support Ghana’s bid for a Non-Permanent Seat at the UN Security Council from 2020 to 2021,” the President said.

He continued, “This support mechanism has also been to the candidature of Professor Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, as a Judge on the International Criminal Court (ICC). An MOU, to this end, would be signed after this session by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries.”

Migration

On the issue of migration, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the high numbers of young Africans taking distressing risks across the Sahara and around the Mediterranean, trying to reach a better life.

“Whilst we strive to provide youths with the right environment in Africa, which would enable them enhance their skills, receive appropriate training, and have access to digital technology and enhanced economic opportunities, Her Excellency the President and her delegation have reiterated their commitment to champion the need for humane treatment of illegal migrants as well as the protection of their human rights in accordance with international law, both at home and on EU platforms,” he added

President Akufo-Addo revealed that Ghana has been included in the list of beneficiary countries of the EU’s Emergency Migration Fund – a Fund designed to assist in the return and re-integration of our citizens into society.

Government, President Akufo-Addo assured, will collaborate with Malta and EU member stated to help find solutions to the factors that trigger illegal migration.

“Our deliberations also centered driving investment opportunities, domestic and foreign, in our two countries, and the need for enhanced co-operation and partnership in our development efforts.

A Business Forum between our two Chambers of Commerce, as well as with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), has been scheduled to take place at the Accra International Conference Centre tomorrow, July 27, 2017, to identify the trade and business opportunities that exist and would be mutually beneficial to our two countries,” he added.

It was the hope of President Akufo-Addo that “as we shape the future of Ghana, and position Ghanaian enterprises to compete effectively in the global market space, we have friends, such as the Republic of Malta, to support us in this objective.”G

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The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assured that his government will partner and support public universities in the country with the aim of raising and improving their standards, so they can compete with the best on the continent.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “Ghanaian Universities should be ranked amongst the top 10 on the continent. This is not beyond us to achieve, and my government will ensure that universities are equipped with the requisite logistics and guarantee that lecturers are well motivated to achieve this feat.”

The President has also stressed that research and innovation will be at the heart of education in Ghana, as “this would ensure that our graduates from our educational institutions enter the labour market well-equipped with skills for good-paying jobs.”

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Saturday, 29th July, 2017, when he attended and delivered a speech at the 21st Congregation Ceremony of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW).

Applauding UEW for its position as the citadel of teacher education in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo also commended the University for its pioneering role in distance education, noting that UEW is now a pacesetter in distance learning, with 37 study centres spread across the country.

He noted that almost all modern, successful societies that have had outstanding results in training and economic development such as Singapore, Finland, Korea and Canada have shown that teacher quality is the single most important determinant of their successes.

“For us also to make a success of our nation, we must pay attention to teachers. It is only a crop of well-trained, self-confident and contented teachers that can deliver the educated and skilled workforce we require to transform our economy,” he said.

To this end, the President also stressed that government intends to restore the teaching profession to the status it once enjoyed, and make it an attractive career choice.

Teaching, he added, must no longer be seen as a stop-gap measure or a job of last resort, but as a viable choice to enter a well-paid, well respected profession with long term career prospects and good benefits.

“Accordingly, government intends to facilitate teacher training nationwide, as well as special incentives for them, such as support for teachers to acquire their own homes, in collaboration with the Ghana National Association of Teachers, NAGRAT, and other teaching associations to facilitate an affordable housing scheme for teachers,” the President said.

He continued, “We will also support teachers to enrol in Distance Education programmes to boost their capacity. This is in line with our policy of motivating teachers, and rewarding their hard work in the classroom. It is for this reason that government, from September, is re-introducing the teacher training allowance that was cancelled by the previous government.”

Ensure amicable settlement of issues

President Akufo-Addo urged the newly constituted Governing Council of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), to do all within its power to see to an amicable settlement of all matters currently pending before the Winneba High Court.

Describing the recent happenings at UEW, President Akufo-Addo stated that it is noteworthy that it appears that finality is being brought to bear on the matters.

The current challenges, in the President’s view, can be best surmounted if all stakeholders act within the confines of the law and respect the rule of law.

“Court decisions are not always pleasant, but they are, in principle, the surest way of resolving disputes. Let us not through our utterances, actions and inactions undermine the authority of our courts,” he said.

In the same vein, President Akufo-Addo urged the chairperson of the governing council to ensure that the Council puts in place measures to seal all loopholes of waste and the abuse of public funds.

“I encourage all lecturers to resume full academic duties and use the university’s processes to resolve any outstanding grievances,” he added.Gha

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