President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been conferred with the Medal of Merit in Leadership Award for his lifelong dedication to advancing human rights, promoting justice, and serving as an example of principled leadership in Africa and beyond.
The award recognises the President’s efforts to establish his legacy as a cornerstone of democratic principles and Pan-African unity.
The Africa Bar Association (AfBA) conferred the award on President Akufo-Addo yesterday at its Annual Conference at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
According to AfBA President Hannibal Egbe Uwaifo, Esq., the Ghanaian President received the honour for his exemplary leadership, pan-Africanism, anti-corruption efforts, and advancement of democracy.
“It is a great privilege to honour President Akufo-Addo, a Pan Africanist, Anti-Corruption Crusader, 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 said.
Receiving the award, President Akufo-Addo noted that the legal profession holds a rarefied place in African societies, and lawyers are guaranteed a privileged standing.
“In all our countries, it must be a source of pride for us that lawyers were at the forefront of the fight for liberation from colonialism. Indeed, since independence, lawyers have moved seamlessly between politics and the legal profession,” he stated.
With Africa having been unable to translate all her abundant natural advantages into building successful states, the President told the gathering that the time is long overdue for Africa and Africans to define her narrative.
“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. Africa accounts for only three percent of global trade, and intra-African trade is one of the lowest of any region globally,” he said.
“This is 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,” the President added.
Referring to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), he noted that the agreement represents a historic opportunity for the continent to strengthen, immeasurably, intra-African trade as a powerful avenue for developing Africa’s vast economic and material potential.
He pointed out that AfCFTA 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, he indicated that “once fully realised, we can increase intra-Africa trade by $35 billion, and reduce external imports by $10 billion yearly.”
These benefits to be sought from the AfCFTA, he said, can, 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 is threatening the peace and stability of the coastal nations,” he added.
According to President Akufo-Addo, it is incumbent that, in this generation, “we all stand together to defeat this menace, and guarantee the peace and stability, which are essential to the rapid economic development not only of West Africa but also of the entire continent.”
The surest way, in his view, is to banish poverty now adding that “in the same vein, we must reiterate our commitment to democratic governance, and reject all unconstitutional changes of government.”