President Akufo-Addo’s address to the Assembly’s 77th annual high-level debate focused largely on the issue of global economic challenges and the need for effective solutions for African economies.
The Great Depression
Recalling that COVID-19 had plunged Africa into its worst recession in half a century, he said: “The World Bank noted last Thursday that the global economy was suffering its worst downturn since 1970, when we were on the brink of a public health pandemic ducked by an unknown, malicious virus combined with a devastating global economic pandemic. High budget deficits were no longer just a matter for developing countries.”
Referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which exacerbated an already difficult situation, he added: “Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine hits our pockets and our economies in Africa.”
Several African countries had inflation rates three to four times higher than two years ago. Ghana has experienced the highest inflation in 21 years, he said.
President Akufo-Addo emphasized that the international financial architecture is clearly distorted towards developing and emerging countries like Ghana. He noted that “the label of Africa as an investment risk is essentially little more than a self-fulfilling prophecy created by the bias of the international money market, which denies us access to cheaper credit and drives us deeper into debt”. and thus underlines the need for system reform.
A turning point indeed
The Ghanaian President stated: “We don’t have the luxury of being able to choose which big problem we want to solve. None of them can wait; the economic turmoil requires an urgent and immediate solution; the turmoil and uncertainties in many parts of the world require urgent attention; as well as the need to address the issues of climate change.”
He also referred to the security situation in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) area and expressed disappointment that all of Ghana’s neighboring countries have suffered terrorist attacks and lost some territorial space to the invading forces. At the same time, he decided to reverse these unfortunate developments.
“United States of Africa”
Remembering Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, who would have been 113 today, he recalled the driving force behind de Nkrumah’s political career which would help to bring about the birth of a united Africa or the ‘United States of Africa’.
President Akufo-Addo told world leaders: “Africa is ready for business. Africa needs you and you need Africa. They need Africa because Africa is busy building the world’s largest single market of 1.3 billion people.” He added that Africa is the new frontier for manufacturing, technology and food production.
He concluded by urging the investor community to support the adoption of the lucrative African agribusiness and urged the community to see agribusiness in Africa as an opportunity rather than an overblown risk, which he felt was wrong but the dominant narrative.