Scale up efforts to end poverty – President to world leaders

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on world leaders to scale up their efforts in ending poverty, whether in the developed or developing world.

He said the challenge of eradicating poverty in all its forms ought to engage the energies and resources of leaders of the global community, because “poverty anywhere degrades us all”.

This was when he took his turn at the Annual General Debate of the 74th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

Noting that poverty was a daily reality that affected many in Africa, the President said “far too many of our people are burdened with it, and it robs us of the dignity that should be the inherent right of every human being.”

“Our performance as governments will be judged by how successful we are in reducing and eventually eradicating poverty in our countries,” he said.

That was why his administration was taking action to end the injustice of poverty, leveraging on technology, access to education and stemming capital flight among other measures, to create prosperity and improve the living standards of the people.

Resident Akufo Addo said with technological advances, it was no longer a tortuous road to short circuiting poverty.

With more than 41 million mobile subscriptions in Ghana presently, there had been a remarkable difference in communications within the country and with the outside world, resulting in a sizeable and growing number of the population being brought into the formal banking sector by the mobile phone.

Additionally, the modernization of agriculture through the application of technology, he said, could well turn out to be the fastest way to make the turnaround that Ghana was seeking.

This year’s General Debate is being held under the theme: “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion.”

President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Ghana’s and Africa’s youth had demonstrated their ingenuity and innovative prowess, and should be enlisted fully in the fight against poverty.

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“It will be an easier battle, of course, if trade practices were seen to be more equitable and fairer. The question always remains whether the rich nations are prepared for an equitable and fair-trading order.”

Noting that “wherever quality education is available, there is usually prosperity”, the President said, throughout the ages, education had been the most equitable source of providing opportunities and has provided the fastest and most reliable route out of poverty.

“We, in Ghana, acknowledge that we need an educated and skilled population to be able to compete effectively in the world economy.

“We are, therefore, taking the brave step of spending on education, a substantial part of our national revenue, indeed a third of our nation’s budget,” he said, adding that education was another area where technology must be employed to accelerate the provision of quality education to as many people as possible.

“Very soon, we might not have to enter classrooms nor even go to the hallowed grounds of the famous universities to gain access to the knowledge that used to be exclusively available in those institutions,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo however underlined that to be able to benefit from the opportunities made possible by technology; infrastructure must be raised to a basic, minimum level.

“We need to provide reliable electricity and internet services to the people in our towns and villages, and, then, they can truly join in the benefits of the technology that bring quality education to all. We can then have a realistic expectation of a prosperous future.”

He expressed discomfort with the prevalent levels of poverty on the continent, despite the world being dependent on the minerals from Africa.

“I do not seek to blame outsiders for our problems, but, since we are being urged to find multilateral solutions, I believe it is worth pointing out that unfairness in the economic order undermines the fight against poverty.

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“Indeed, the flight of capital is continuing the external exploitation of Africa, represented by colonialism and imperialism,” he stated.

President Akufo-Addo called for collaboration amongst the nations of the world to stop the rape of Africa, and curtail the over US$50 billion the continent losses annually through illicit financial outflows.

He said “fortunately, the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area, is a major, collective effort by Africa to get to grips with mastery of her own development”.

“It will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and will provide the vehicle for us to trade more among ourselves, offer an opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources for the benefit of our peoples; and give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocks,” he said.

He invited the global community to take practical and proactive steps to curb the human activities that were taking the word to a precipice.

“Our world is enriched by the diversity of cultures, religions and beliefs…they add spice to our lives, but there are scientific and mathematical truths that do not change the space or time. These truths we all do well to uphold.

“Now that the scientists have spoken on the realities of climate change, I believe it is time to direct our energies to what we can and should do to counteract the danger and stop the unnecessary arguments.

“Nature has been brutal this year, demonstrating to us that our climate is changing and we are probably pushing our world to destruction. It is time to take action to bring back our world from the precipice,” he admonished.

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