Stop assisting foreigners to loot our resources
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on institutions and individuals in Africa to desist from assisting foreigners to loot the continent’s natural resources.
He said doing that only deprived African countries of the resources they needed to support the development aspirations of their people.
“People come to do business with us and they steal and we help them to steal. We have to find ways to bring the looting of our continent to an end,” the President added.
Contributing to a panel discussion at a forum in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said: “Perhaps, I can understand the outsiders because they have everything to gain, but we have a lot to lose by assisting people to loot our resources. We need a new mindset and we must let patriotism lead us in everything we do.”
The dialogue with African influencers which was on the theme: “Africa’s money for African development: A future beyond aid”, was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Participants included representatives from the private sector, traditional leaders and members of the diplomatic corps from 45 countries.
Among issues discussed at the maiden UNDP dialogue were ways African countries could leverage their own resources to spur growth and development on the continent with less dependence on foreign aid.
Other topics were how to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area; climate change and the environment; the youth, creative industry, women, trade and agribusiness; technology and innovation.
There was also an inauguration of a 15-member High Level Dialogue African Influencers, made up of founders and chief executive officers of private businesses, banks and academia, whose responsibilities include helping to find solutions to challenges confronting Africa’s development.
President Akufo-Addo also observed that the negative attitude of some Africans and how they held themselves and treated their own countries, had also contributed largely to the under-development of the continent and, therefore, called for a change in attitude and perspectives.
On Ghana’s development beyond aid agenda, he said the idea had caused nervousness in some foreign leaders who thought the agenda was ‘anti-foreign, anti-European, anti-white and anti-American’.
The President explained that he was not anti-aid, but said it was time Ghana, and for that matter the rest of Africa depended on themselves, and asked whether “there is something wrong with that. Ghana Beyond Aid is all about the need to depend on ourselves, find resources and policies that will enable us to stand on our own feet.”
He added that the only key to development in Africa was hard work. “Hard work does not feature in the discussions on our continent; somehow, because there is this sense of entitlement that there are people out there who are going to help us; No, nobody is going to come and help us.”
“People who deal with us do so because they have specific goals they have to address. That is the way the world has been and that is the way the world will continue,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The Chairman of Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu, urged African countries to invest in young entrepreneurs to enable them to grow and create jobs and prosperity for the accelerated development of the continent.
“Governments must create the right environment to enable the private sector to succeed. We want governments to realise that the success of the private sector is a success for everyone,” he added.
The founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin, said the greatest resource Africa had was creativity, ingenuity, innovation and its young people who needed to be aided to become job creators rather than job seekers.
“There can be no growth and prosperity if we are expecting existing jobs in our countries to absorb our young people,” she said.
The UNDP Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Director for Africa, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, said optimising Africa’s resources for development and reducing aid dependence was critical for African countries if they were to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“African countries must move beyond aid and graduate towards high and long-term investments required to close the current financing gap of up to $1.2 trillion per year required for the continent to attain the SDGs,” she stated.