President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says although it is taking quite some time for the country to help construct an economy that is capable of creating a society of equal opportunities for all, he believes “there is far more self-confidence among us Ghanaians today, than there has been since the very early days of self- government, that we can make it if we work at it.”
Delivering his speech at the 64th Independence Day Celebration last Saturday at the Jubilee House, the President said on 63 previous occasions, Ghanaians had usually congregated in Accra, and, recently, in other locations around the country, to celebrate the nation’s independence.
“At these annual events, we have sought to express a deep consciousness of love for country, and the importance of ensuring that we realise our potential as the Black Star of Africa. Year after year, we commit ourselves to ensuring that we work to lift the standard of living of the Ghanaian, and help construct an economy that is capable of creating a society of opportunities for all,” he said.
“Today, freedom and the cultivation of democratic values are strengthening our determination to bring into being a new Ghana that is neither pawn nor victim of the world order. Attachment to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties, human rights, the principles of democratic accountability and the dictates of social justice has deepened for our common benefit,” he added.
According to the President, the biggest challenge confronting the nation today is its ability to stay on the path of sustained progress and prosperity, and enhance the well-being of every Ghanaian.
He noted that a considerable amount of work has been undertaken to help Ghana achieve this objective since 2017.
“Consistently for three successive years, our nation had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, leading to us becoming the largest destination of foreign direct investment in West Africa; global automobile companies had either setup shop in Ghana, or had expressed their desire to do so; the basic tenets of social justice, i.e. access to education and healthcare, were being guaranteed for all our people; we had become self-sufficient in food production, and, for the first time in a long while, exported our surpluses to our neighbours; sustained efforts, through digitisation, were being made to formalise our economy; and we had hastened our critical journey of industrialisation and value-addition activities, whose end result would be to create jobs for the teeming masses of Ghanaians,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo further said through successful diplomacy on the part of Ghana, the African Union agreed to locate the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Ghana, describing it as the most important initiative of the AU since its foundation.
“This is the first time since independence that we have had the privilege of playing host to a major pan-African institution. The single African market, which began trading on 1st January, will present Ghanaian enterprises and businesses with a huge opportunity for the rapid development of the Ghanaian and African economy,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic had, indeed, derailed Ghana’s progress.
“Lives and livelihoods have been affected, the economy has suffered, and Government has had to cushion households and businesses from the effects of the virus. If any more evidence were needed of the impact of COVID-19, the fact that this, the 64th Independence Day Celebration, has had to be cancelled, and substituted with, essentially, a virtual celebration, is one of them,” he said.
He commended Ghanaians for observing the safety protocols which were laid out by government, and urged them to continue to help government in ensuring that the active cases decline.
“Yes, the first vaccines have arrived in the country, and they have begun to be deployed, and I appeal passionately to each one of you to take the vaccine when it is your turn. But, however, we cannot afford to let go of the enhanced hygiene and mask wearing protocols, which should define our way of living. These protocols have not only helped in the fight against COVID-19, but have also helped ensure that cholera, for example, is no longer a health concern,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Better days ahead
President Akufo-Addo assured Ghanaians that soon the benefits of economic recovery would begin to show.
“A year from today, we should regain our pride of place as one of the fastest growing economies not only in Africa, but also in the world. A year from now, we should be processing more and more of our raw materials, to help create jobs for the millions of Ghanaian youths. A year from now, more and more of Ghanaian children should be having access to education. A year from now, every district and region should have a hospital, where residents will be able to have decent, affordable healthcare,” he said.
The President stressed that this is easily achievable if Ghanaians put their hearts and minds to it.
“Let us redefine our sense of national responsibility, and remove any doubt some may continue to have about our ability to manage our own affairs. Let us devote ourselves to the freedom and welfare of Mother Ghana,” he appealed.
President Akufo-Addo expressed the optimism that with dedication, hard work, honesty and integrity, Ghana can fulfil the dreams and aspirations of its founding fathers.