Africa cannot continue to be good only for raw materials – Akufo-Addo

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President Nana Akufo-Addo has said Africa’s quest to provide a dignified life for its people, through economic transformation, requires a shift from its existing economic structures to a more industrialised one.

According to him, the structure of economies bequeathed to Africa by colonialism was aimed at servicing its aims, essentially raw material producing and exporting economies, hence cannot form the basis for the continent’s development.

“The time is long overdue for us to take a deep look at these structures, and transform our economies to serve better our own needs. The era of Africa’s industrialisation has dawned, so that we can also trade in the world economy, not on the basis of raw materials, but on the basis of things we make. Trade between us in Africa is minimal, and our share of world trade is negligible. We have to improve both substantially,” he said.

The president, who was speaking in Accra at the 2017 Africa Business Media Innovators summit by Bloomberg Media Group, which was on the theme: The changing face of media and new hybrid models, said the continent cannot continue to be a raw material exporter.

Ghana, for instance, is said to be losing billions of dollars in revenue and jobs to the export of raw gold, cocoa, rubber (cup lumps), cashew, among other products.

Mr. Akufo-Addo lamented that Ghana’s high food import bill, which reached US$2.2 billion in 2015 – the same amount that the country earned from cocoa export – is simply not acceptable, and that his government is assiduously taking steps to avert the narrative.

“We, in Africa, have a great battle to fight and win, and that is the battle to provide our people with a good, dignified quality of life.

The good Lord has blessed our lands, and we should exploit our resources to benefit our peoples. Above all, we have to be able to feed ourselves,” the 73-year-old, who assumed office at the beginning of this year noted.

The Africa Business Media Innovators summit is a three-year programme launched by Michael R. Bloomberg to build media capacity, convene international leaders and improve access to information on the continent.

The summit is part of the Bloomberg Media initiative, which is working with universities in three of Africa’s largest economies – Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa – to train journalists to analyse and report on economic data, and to improve the quality and availability of that data. Reliable data and excellent business journalism can help inform international investors about opportunities in Africa, and help African companies raise capital to grow.

It was aimed at examining how business leaders across the continent and globally can continue to contribute to a strong and vibrant media sector, including media and business journalism, and how media and journalism can help to address inequality and drive inclusive growth.

Mr. Akufo-Addo further stressed the important role the media, especially business and financial journalism, can help play in shaping development and business opportunities as critical.

“The media has always been a critical feature of the political, financial and business architecture of Africa, and continues to be so. The time has come for us to harness the full potential of the media, keep it up to pace with technological changes, so it helps define, and, at the same time, contribute to the sustainable development of the African continent,” President Akufo-Addo added.

He therefore charged African journalists to have a duty to help change the image about Africa, and establish a narrative which is more positive.

By Thomas-Moore Adingo l thebftonline.com l Ghana