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Dealing with global crisis: Inspire new partnerships - Prez Akufo-Addo to EU

BY: Chris Nunoo
President  Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivering the keynote address at the 15th Edition of the European Development Days in Brussels, Belgium
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivering the keynote address at the 15th Edition of the European Development Days in Brussels, Belgium

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the global community to inspire new partnerships to deal with global crisis, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the pandemic had reversed years of progress and revealed critical gaps in infrastructure in areas such as health care and digital connectivity.

He also observed that global efforts to help countries correct the devastation caused by the pandemic and also achieve the United Nations (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were coming up short.

The President was speaking at this year’s European Union Development Days (EDD) Conference in Brussels, Belgium yesterday.

The EDD Conference 2022, which is on the theme: “Global Gateway: Building sustainable partnerships for a connected world”, is Europe’s leading forum on international partnerships and organised by the European Commission (EC).

The forum brings key actors together to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Relationship

Stressing the need for an enhanced relationship between Africa and Europe to safeguard the prospects of the development of Africa, President Akufo-Addo said Africa welcomed the establishment of the 300 billion Euro global gateway package by the EU.

The package aims at boosting public and private investments in the areas of infrastructure, energy and green transition, digital transformation, growth and jobs, transport and human development over the next seven years.

He was hopeful that the conference would produce outcomes that would prove beneficial in the successful implementation of infrastructure development across Africa.

Tangible projects

“In the next few years,” the President said, “we must be able to see tangible projects across Africa as proof of the fruits of the strategic partnership that exists between Europe and Africa.

“We have to work together to achieve our goals, including a fair equitable process of energy transition, which recognises that the entire African continent is responsible for less than four per cent of global emissions, and safeguards the prospects of Africa’s development.”

“No one needs to tell us that the issues of peace, progress and prosperity in Africa and Europe are deeply intertwined, which presupposes that ensuring the development of Africa should be in our common interest,” the President added.

He, therefore, called for a long-standing relationship between Africa and Europe founded on ties of blood, culture, geography and history to serve as a platform for enhanced cooperation between the two continents.

“Now, more than ever, a strong partnership between Europe and Africa, reinforced political dialogue and expanded cooperation in the field of economic growth and international security are required,” he added.

Russian invasion

He expressed concern over the fact that prospects for the developing world had been severely undermined in recent months by the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

That, he explained, had had a negative impact on commodity and fuel prices, stoking food crisis and provoking financial market volatility.

“Although the bombs may be dropping on cities half a world away, they are hitting our pockets, not only in Ghana and Africa but also much of the developing world,” he stressed.

UN report

Citing a recent UN report to buttress his concerns, President Akufo-Addo said it was estimated that 70 per cent of African economies were at severe risk from the Russian war in Ukraine.

“The World Bank tells us that subsequent to the conflict, the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa could rise from 413 million to 463 million this year, representing an increase of 50 million people,” he said.

In the midst of the developments, the President indicated that 18 African economies had experienced credit downgrades, even when all economies were suffering an adverse fallout from last year’s pandemic.

“We in Africa are also facing the risk of investors exiting our markets, thereby exacerbating the increasing cost of borrowing,” he said

Trying times

To that end, he said, support from non-International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmed countries to alleviate the debt burden was limited, while the initial facility designed by the G-20 countries to offer respite to economies with elevated debt challenges - Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) - had expired since December 2021 and not been renewed.

Beyond the DSSI, President Akufo-Addo said, the G-20 common framework promised a comprehensive solution to the debt issue but the few countries that took on the associated risk by applying were yet to receive the much needed relief.

“In these trying times, the $650 billion special drawing rights, approved for the IMF in August 2021, was meant to provide significant relief. However, based on allocation principles, economies in Africa got only $33 billion, about five per cent.

“Moreover the promise to reallocate some $100 billion of the allocations to African economies agreed to at the Paris Summit in May 2019 had yielded about $36 billion in pledges as of April 2022,” the President stated.

He, therefore, called on the global community to step up its support for developing countries to withstand the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.