President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has charged African leaders and citizens to make the continent attractive for the youth and the world at large.
This, he said would enable them to see the continent as a place of opportunities, and with the potentials to generate wealth and prosperity.
President Akufo-Addo who was speaking at Princeton University on the theme: “The future is Africa: Translating Vision into Action.” said, there were many good reasons why Africans should be able to get themselves out of the hole and onto the path of hope and prosperity.
He said Africa was endowed with tremendous natural resources that could form the base for processing industries and allied downstream manufacturing industries, adding, “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.”
President Akufo-Addo said with Africa in possession of over half of the world’s uncultivated arable land, sustained investment in Africa’s agriculture, the application of technology, especially digital technology, could yield enormous benefits for the African and global economies in the provision of foodstuffs, and diversified, agro-based economic activities.
He said Africa’s youthful and growing labour force was estimated by the United Nations to be, in 2050, about a quarter of the world’s population, and a third of the world’s youth population, that is between the ages of 15 to 24 years, will be in Africa.
“The empowerment of this young population, with access to education and skills training, will constitute a powerful tool for economic development in Africa and the world,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo noted that as a result of growing industrialisation and the emerging structural transformation of African economies, African countries were becoming more involved in the high-end of the global value chain, trading in both final and intermediate manufacturing products.
He said: “Under these assumptions, by 2030, the continent could be talking of an African export market of some 3 trillion US dollars.”
The President said, with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) Area, which would put all the 54 markets, covering 1.2 billion people into a single market, it would be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
He said AfCFTA would provide the vehicle for Africans to trade among themselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner; offer a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of the continent for the benefit of all and the protection on how to deal with other trading blocks.
“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.”
President Akufo-Addo said, for the 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 was confident that Africa, in possession of the requisite manpower, resources, and the political will, will work, adding that, “It is time to translate the vision African leaders had 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.