Africa needs fair trade, not sympathy or aid – Ghanaian president

What Africa needs is not development assistance from developed countries but a fair chance to trade with the rest of the world, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama said.

“Africa does not need your sympathy or overseas development assistance. Africa needs a fair chance to trade with the rest of the world and among ourselves. The progress towards the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is commendable and must be fast tracked,” he said.

According to President Mahama who made the assertion during the recent UN General Assembly in New York, raising intra-African trade alone from the paltry average of 15 per cent will create better opportunities for Africa’s youth.

He said that he recently took the decision to allow citizens of other African countries travelling to Ghana to obtain visas on arrival and that the initiative would stimulate trade and investment if it were replicated across the continent.

The Ghanaian leader said that Africa, a continent of 54 countries at different stages of progress and development, has the potential to be the next continent on the rise.

“The mistake with Africa is that we are seen as a homogeneous unit and treated as such, not taking cognizance that we are a whole continent with different aspirations, cultures, democracies and economic development,” Mahama said.

“Ghana is a part of Africa’s success story as the model of democracy or the beacon of democracy in the region,” he said, explaining that since the adoption of the 1992 Constitution, successive elections, with power occasionally swinging between opposing political forces has established Ghana’s democratic credentials in the world.

“A strict two-term limit for the President means that every eight years it is guaranteed that there would be a new person in charge, and Ghana has a fiercely independent media with hundreds of newspapers and radio stations.

“The people of Ghana will go to the polls this December and the processes before, during and after will mark a further consolidation of Ghana’s credentials as a leading world democracy,” he said.

As for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the president said that Ghana has begun its work on the SDGs’ targets in earnest, and has put in place the necessary national structures to ensure that the policies and measures taken fall in line with the 40-year development plan the country is currently formulating.

On UN reforms, he said: “While Africa accounts for close to one-third of the UN membership and nearly two-thirds of the work of the UN Security Council, it remains woefully under-represented in the permanent and non-permanent category of the Security Council, so Ghana is calling for an equitable reform.”