“We are determined to get Ghana once again to lead our continent on two fronts: entrenching democracy and the rule of law and transforming the structure of the African economy into a modern, manufacturing kind that has the capacity to generate jobs for our people and create and spread wealth across the length and breadth of our vast continent,” he said.
Addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps as part of the New Year reception at the Flagstaff House in Accra last Wednesday, the President said the government was not going to shy away from making the critical choices that were necessary in the long-term interest of Ghanaians.
He said the government would invest heavily in building up the most important ingredient of development: “the intellectual property of the people – the mind – our sure key to success”.
“We want to add value to our human capital, add value to our governance, add value to our public services, add value to our infrastructure and add value to our economy. We will govern honestly,” he said.
The President stressed that the government was committed to transforming the economy, with prime focus on executing an integrated industrialisation programme, with a bias towards supporting small and medium-scale enterprises with access to science and technology, incentives and markets to make them more productive and competitive.
“We plan on introducing programmes that will boost productivity in the agricultural sector and introduce incentives that will encourage our banks to provide affordable credit and other financial services for SMEs and launch a new wave of viable industries across Ghana. This is summed up in our slogan: ‘1 District,1 Factory’ and ‘1 Village, 1 Dam’,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana had a promising future, having enjoyed the longest period of stability since independence.
He said a new wind of optimism and revival was blowing across the country, and that the government was determined to harness them to bring about progress, prosperity and happiness for the people.
The President said Ghana was, arguably, the most stable and flourishing democracy in Africa, saying that on December 7, last year, it showed dignity and serenity in the exercise of its sovereign franchise.
He said the country also had a large pool of educated people, both within and in the Diaspora, and a hardworking population from which it could draw to drive economic development.
He said it had sustained economic growth over the last two decades and that despite the decline of the last few years, it was one of the leading producers of gold and cocoa in the world and now an oil-producing economy as well.
“Sadly, however, the structure of our economy has not changed substantially since the era of Governor Gordon Guggisberg — an exporter of raw materials, with little or no value-addition activities. This is why I have called our economy the Guggisberg economy,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said he was touched that he had become President in the 60th year of Ghana’s independence and expressed the hope that the sacrifices and efforts of its founding fathers would motivate him to discharge his duties.
“I pray for God’s support,” he added.
He promised that all the alliances and friendships that Ghana had entered into over the last 60 years with foreign governments would be further developed during his tenure.
On the African Union (AU), the President said: “The decisive election of our compatriot, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, a professional diplomat, who acted as Secretary to my predecessor, President John Mahama, as Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission and the election of Kathleen Quartey Ayensu and Daniel Batidam onto two legal organs of the AU at the just-ended 28th Summit of the AU in Addis Ababa point to Ghana’s determination to retake her pride of place among the comity of nations on the continent.”
President Akufo-Addo, however, noted that the growth of democracy in Ghana and Africa was threatened by terrorism.
He said Ghana stood firmly with all civilised nations in repudiating terrorism as an instrument of political action, adding that the country supported regional, continental and global efforts at defeating what he called the “21st century scourge”.
On his foreign policy direction, he said: “Our commitment to the values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law will continue to shape our foreign policy. I would, therefore, like to renew my commitment to Ghana’s continued collaboration with your respective countries and international organisations in this symbolic year and in the many years ahead, in order to advance further our common pursuit of greater co-operation and deepen and strengthen our ties of friendship.”
Dean of Diplomatic Corps
For her part, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, on behalf of her colleagues, congratulated the President and the people of Ghana on successfully achieving another democratic milestone that saw the swearing-in of a new president.
She said Ghana continued to be a shining example of democratic governance not only on the continent but the world over.