Ghanaian President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged world leaders to focus their energies and resources on combatting poverty, explaining that “poverty anywhere degrades us all, whether in the developed or developing world.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, “for us (in Africa), poverty is a daily reality that we live with and feel, for far too many of our people are burdened with it, and it robs us of the dignity that should be the inherent right of every human being.”
Taking his turn to address the United Nations General Assembly, on Wednesday, 25th September, 2019, the President indicated that “we know that our performance as governments will be judged by how successful we are in reducing and eventually eradicating poverty in our countries.”
Nonetheless, with individual sovereign countries bearing responsibility not only for reducing poverty, but also to create prosperity for their citizens, the he told the Assembly that Ghana, under his administration, is engaged in the fight to eradicate poverty.
The use of technology, access to education, and the fight against illicit financial flows from the continent, amongst others, he said, provide Ghana, and, indeed, Africa with clear paths towards winning the fight against poverty, lifting up the standards of living of their peoples.
Technological advances, President Akufo-Addo explained, are short circuiting the path out of poverty, adding that “it is no longer the long and tortuous road it used to be.”
With more than 41 million mobile subscriptions in Ghana at the moment, the President indicated that “this has led to a remarkable difference in communications within our country and with the outside world. A sizeable and growing number of the population has been, and is being brought into the formal banking sector by the mobile phone.”
Additionally, the modernisation of agriculture through the application of technology, he said, could well turn out to be the fastest way to make the turnaround that Ghana seeks.
Ghana’s and Africa’s youth, President Akufo-Addo stressed, have demonstrated their ingenuity and innovative prowess, and they have to be enlisted fully in the fight against poverty.
“It will be an easier battle, of course, if trade practices were seen to be more equitable and fairer. The question always remains whether the rich nations are prepared for an equitable and fair-trading order,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo was unequivocal in his belief in that wherever quality education is available, there is usually prosperity, explaining that, throughout the ages, education has been the most equitable source of providing opportunities and has provided the fastest and most reliable route out of poverty.
“We, in Ghana, acknowledge that we need an educated and skilled population to be able to compete effectively in the world economy. We are, therefore, taking the brave step of spending on education, a substantial part of our national revenue, indeed a third of our nation’s budget,” he said.
Education, he added, is another area where technology must be employed to accelerate the provision of quality education to as many people as possible.
“Very soon, we might not have to enter classrooms nor even go to the hallowed grounds of the famous universities to gain access to the knowledge that used to be exclusively available in those institutions,” he said.
But, to be able to benefit from these opportunities made possible by technology, President Akufo-Addo said, infrastructure must be raised to a basic, minimum level.
“We need to provide reliable electricity and internet services to the people in our towns and villages, and, then, they can truly join in the benefits of the technology that bring quality education to all. We can then have a realistic expectation of a prosperous future,” he said.
Illicit Financial Flows
With the world dependent on the minerals from Africa, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the prevalent levels of poverty on the continent, largely resulting from the fact that Africa does not get a fair share of the wealth extracted from the continent.
“I do not seek to blame outsiders for our problems, but, since we are being urged to find multilateral solutions, I believe it is worth pointing out that unfairness in the economic order undermines the fight against poverty. Indeed, the flight of capital is continuing the external exploitation of Africa, represented by colonialism and imperialism,” he said.
With Africa losing, annually, more than $50 billion through illicit financial outflows, the President indicated that collaboration is needed amongst the nations of the world to stop this rape of Africa.
The coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area, President Akufo-Addo said, is a major, collective effort by Africa to get to grips with mastery of her own development.
“It will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and will provide the vehicle for us to trade more among ourselves, offer an opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources for the benefit of our peoples; and give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocks,” he said.