The Africa Bar Association (ABA) has conferred a Medal of Merit in Leadership Award on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
At its 2023 Annual Conference in Pretoria, South Africa, the ABA’s president, Hannibal Egbe Uwaifo, said President Akufo-Addo was awarded for his pan Africanism and Anti-Corruption Crusade.
“A rare democratic leader in the field of good governance, a true African Statesman whose legacies present African leaders must emulate and we are minded to say will stand the test of time,” he noted.
Thanking the African Bar Association for the award, President Akufo-Addo said the legal profession has a rarefied position in African societies and lawyers are assured of a special status.
“In all our countries, it must be a source of pride for us that lawyers were in the forefront of the fight for liberation from colonialism. Indeed, since independence, lawyers have moved seamlessly between politics and the legal profession,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo emphasised that time had come for Africa to define its own narrative and work to translate all her abundant natural advantages to building successful states.
“We must be defined by what we see in ourselves and not what others choose to say about us. However, this cannot happen if we do not trade amongst ourselves,” he stated.
Africa accounts for only three percent of global trade and intra-African trade is one of the lowest of any region globally.
That, the President explained, was largely due to the “colonial” economic model characterised by small individual economies, fragmented and disconnected regional markets, over-reliance on the production and export of primary commodities and the presence of low productive capacities, which have been in existence for the last century.”
President Akufo-Addo maintained that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), represented a historic opportunity for Africa to strengthen, immeasurably, intra-African trade, a powerful avenue for developing Africa’s vast economic and material potential.
“As the adage goes, there is strength in unity and for all 54 Member States of the African Union, our strength lies with our numbers. Cumulatively, we have a population of 1.3 billion, the majority of whom are young people and we are in possession of a collective GDP of US$ 3 trillion, making us collectively, the 8th largest economy in the world,” he stressed.
That, he explained, positions Africa as, potentially, an attractive investment destination, adding that “with the relevant investment, we will be able to sustain economic growth, and create the job opportunities that the youth of our continent so desperately need.”
Describing the AfCFTA as a major game-changer, the President indicated that “once fully realised, we can increase intra-Africa trade by US$ 35 billion and reduce external imports by US$ 10 billion yearly.”
That, he said, “will mean more opportunities for growth for our small businesses and the potential to lift some 30 million people out of extreme poverty. Additionally, a successful AfCFTA will mean that Africa’s industrial exports will be diversified, thus moving away from undue reliance on extractive commodities and foreign imports.”
Those benefits to be sought from the AfCFTA, he said, could, however, not be reaped in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.
“We in West Africa, are currently preoccupied with the need to free the Region from the terrorist insurgency that has engulfed Mali, Burkina Faso, parts of Niger and Nigeria and threatening the peace and stability of the coastal nations,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo added that, “It is incumbent that, in our generation, we all stand together to defeat this menace and guarantee the peace and stability, which are essential for the rapid economic development not only of West Africa but also of the entire continent, the surest way to banish poverty in our time. In the same vein, we must reiterate our commitment to democratic governance and reject all unconstitutional changes of government.”
He told the gathering that “the vision of our forebears who fought the liberation of our continent from colonialism and imperialism, the AfCFTA has set the stage for Africa’s industrialisation and transformation. What is required now is for our respective Governments and businesses to show bold leadership.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD