The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has reiterated that unless the economies of African countries industrialise, with the goal of adding significant value to its primary products, they cannot create the necessary numbers of good-paying jobs that will enhance the living standards of their peoples.
According to the President, “raw material producing economies do not create prosperity for their people. The way to that goal, the goal of ensuring access to prosperity, is value addition activities in a transformed and a diversified modern economy.”
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the opening of the 53rd Zambia International Trade Fair, on Thursday, June 29, 2017, the last day of his official State Visit to that country, when he made this known.
Speaking on the theme “Innovation for Industrialisation”, the President stated that it is for this reason that one of the flagship programmes of his government is the “one district, one factory” initiative.
Through public-private partnerships, President Akufo-Addo told his Zambian audience that his government aims to establish at least one industrial enterprise in each of the 216 Districts of Ghana, and ensure that Ghana no longer becomes a retailer of cheap imported goods.
“The establishment of these factories will mean that each district becomes an economic growth pole, the centre for the creation of jobs, and, thereby, halt the phenomenon of rural-urban migration of our nation’s youth,” he added.
However, the process of value-addition to Africa’s raw materials, the President stressed, “starts with adding value to our human capital through an education system that provides every child with the skills to realize their full potential.”
Africa, he explained, needs a confident, educated workforce to be able to compete effectively in the global economy.
“This is why, for my part, I have made education one of the foundations of my vision to build a knowledge-based, industrialised economy in Ghana. Access to free, universal, quality, basic education is the key to participation in the new global economy,” he said.
Africa’s problems present us with opportunities
With Africa’s hopes for prosperity and attaining a proper place among the comity of nations remaining unfulfilled, President Akufo-Addo stated that the problems confronting the continent are largely the result of the failure of leadership.
“You could, if you were so minded, look on the extent of the problems that face our continent and region and feel overwhelmed. We should not be. These problems, in my view, present us, in Africa, with opportunities to bring progress and development to our continent,” he said.
He continued, “With the aid of science and technology, the promotion of enterprise, innovation and creativity, and the spread of democratic values, we can construct a new era of prosperity for all the peoples of Africa.”
President Akufo-Addo also stressed the crucial importance of small and medium scale enterprises to the economies of Africa, with nearly 95% of all businesses on the continent being small-scale enterprises.
“They are the heartbeat of our economy, and are at the core of Africa’s private sector. In every city, town, village or hamlet in our respective countries, these small and medium scale enterprises support the livelihoods of our communities. At the national level, they contribute significantly to our gross domestic product and taxes. Indeed, the survival of most countries on the continent is directly anchored in the success of small and medium-scale enterprises,” he added.
Promoting access to digital technology for SMEs, particularly for our youth, he stressed, will enable them realise their full potential, the ripple effects of which would see huge economic gains in the shortest possible time.
In concluding, the President reiterated his conviction that Africa can engineer its transition from poverty to prosperity in a generation.
“We are determined to do that in our generation, and ensure that succeeding generations will be neither victims nor pawns of the international economic order,” he added.