President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that his administration is taking bold and deliberate initiatives to support indigenous banks to finance ventures that would accelerate the nation’s transformation agenda.
He said the indigenous financial institutions would be assisted to venture into more risky ventures in industry and agriculture that have the driving force to lead economic transformation but which foreign banks have shied away from over the years.
The President was speaking at the 2018 African Transformation Forum organised by the African Centre for Economic Transformation in Accra on Thursday.
He said he did not begrudge foreign banks who have over the years been “engaged in passive activities” to make huge profits but have shied away from supporting risky indigenous ventures.
Other speakers at the event were President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is also the Chairman of the African Union as well as the Vice President of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Daniel Kablan Duncan.
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Additional speakers at the forum were Mr Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and owner of Dangote Group of Companies and the Executive Vice President of Unilever Ghana-Nigeria, Mr Yaw Nsarko. The occasion was moderated by BBC’s Femi Ekenya.
The President gave an assurance that local financial institutions would benefit from policies that have the target to accelerate their growth and make them stronger to provide the financial wherewithal for the attainment of the country’s transformation agenda.
He also attributed part of the challenge the country faced to the way the financial sector was structured adding that the foreign-owned banks who have been the main players in the economy had their own goals which were not necessarily about the development of the country, but for profits which “I do not have any problem with”.
He said what he had issue with was with foreign banks making huge profits in an environment and not making major contributions to transform it.
The President said it was the responsibility of governments in Africa to provide good governance, manage the macro economy properly, enact good tax policies, develop skills of those in schools and the workforce needed for the transformation process while civil society ensured accountability.
He said his administration had come up with policies and programmes that had sanitised the economy which was disorganised but was now showing positive signs with inflation reducing and interest rates coming down.
He said the huge deficits he inherited was much better now and the rate at which the country was accumulating debt had reduced significantly compared to previous times.
He said these pointed to the fact that significant progress was being made in the management of the economy.
He said a solid foundation had now been established to attract investors into the country.
The President stated that Africa needed more indigenous business magnates like Aliko Dangote who would invest locally, make their returns and not try to stash away monies elsewhere and contribute significantly to transformation of the continent.
Touching on education, the President said his administration had taken the bold initiative to commence free senior high school strategy which had seen about 90,000 additional students benefiting from senior high school education at the expense of the state.
He added that the government was reorganising technical and vocational education training (TVET) on realising that TVET previously had 19 different institutions in the country to run the programme, a situation which led to very little coherence in the manner by which students were being educated.
He said all the separate institutions are being brought under one umbrella, the Ministry of Education. Additionally, he said, a second look was also being taken at the curricula to ensure that students responded to present needs of the world of work.
Nana Akufo-Addo said apart from access and quality, the quality of teachers which was another important aspect of education was receiving greater attention.
He said recent developments in the world market place should rekindle the need for African countries to accelerate their intra-trade activities and ensure that trade among their people was improved.
The President said currently only four countries including Ghana had signed up to the intra-African trade pact out of 22 countries that signed onto it.
He said contemporary global developments indicated that Africa was being shut out, a signal that required Africans to take bold decisions such as trading among themselves.
President Kagame on his part said the people of Africa needed change of mindset to move away from the era of talking about problems to implementing solutions that would bring development to the people.
He recounted how he made sure that in Rwanda contractors and civil servants who connived to dupe the state through award and execution of contracts were dealt with to ensure that there was value for money spent.
He expressed his unhappiness about trade barriers among African states which were hindering intra-African trade and called for action to be taken to facilitate trade among African nations, especially with regards to current developments in the world market where the big players were involved in trade wars.