President Akufo-Addo delivering the SONA yesterday in Parliamnet
President Akufo-Addo delivering the SONA yesterday in Parliamnet

State of the Nation Address: Face tomorrow with confidence - President rallies citizenry

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday rallied the nation to show resilience in the face of global challenges, urging the citizenry to “face tomorrow with confidence” in his penultimate State of the Nation Address to Parliament.

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“We stumbled, but we are rising again.

 We were bruised, but we are healing.

We have recovered our footing.

 We have dusted ourselves off, and now we face tomorrow with confidence,” he said.

The President also touted the government’s achievements in infrastructure development, a successful Domestic Debt Exchange 

Programme, the progression of digitalisation as a catalyst for financial inclusion, a stable energy system and a vibrant tourism sector during the drama-filled address.

It was his seventh address to the legislature, with his last expected on the eve of his departure from office in January next year.

“Before then, there are a number of important tasks that lie ahead of us, one of which will be the commissioning of the Nana Agyeman Prempeh I International Airport in Kumasi, and naming the recently commissioned airport in Tamale the Yakubu Tali International Airport,” he said.

The President also mentioned a planned $450 million government investment into a manganese refinery, the development of 321 1D1F projects, the planting of 42 million trees over the last three years to replenish the depleting forest cover and cultivating 690,000 hectares of degraded forest between 2017 and 2022 under the Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy.

Referring to the history of a proud country that had faced adversity and overcome it, he stressed that “when crisis hit the country, Ghanaians fought in unison and did not flee.

“Yenim ko; yen nim adwane”, to wit, we know how to fight and not how to surrender.

He said the economic challenges that culminated in the government seeking the support of the IMF and taking unpleasant but unavoidable measures to bring stability and confidence back to the economy were all the hard decisions that were necessary for the recovery that had been attained.

“These included tax measures that we did not like, but we knew we had to take them in the knowledge that the medicine would be bitter but temporary.

 I also stated the decision to undertake a comprehensive debt restructuring of our domestic and external debt to ensure we remain resolute in our objective to restore macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth,” he added.

“These decisions were not easy, considering the complex and diverse domestic debt landscape but the country had to consider safeguarding the financial sector, preserving social and economic conditions, and protecting our domestic debt market,” he said.

Macro economy

He indicated that the macro economy was much stronger at the end of 2023 than in 2022, and that inflation, which peaked at 54.1 per cent in December 2022, had reduced to 23.5 per cent in January 2024, while real GDP growth for the first three quarters of 2023 averaged 2.8 per cent, higher than the targeted growth rate of 1.5 per cent for 2023.

President Akufo-Addo added that the Ghana cedi had been largely stable since February 2023, with a cumulative depreciation of nine per cent between February and December 2023, noting that “Gross International Reserves reflected a significant build-up of $5.9 billion, enough to cover 2.7 months of imports of goods and services”.

He stated that the current account turned positive at 1.4 per cent of GDP at the end of September 2023, from -2.1 per cent at the end of December 2022.

President Akufo-Addo said government successfully paid the first coupon of GH¢2,369.67 million on the new bonds on August 22, 2023, which was the single biggest payout of domestic payments in a single day for Ghana.

He said the government again paid GH¢2,060.72 million for the last leg of the domestic debt exchange on September 5, 2023, and just last Tuesday the second coupon of GH¢5,847.72 million was paid to domestic bondholders. 

External debt

Touching on external debt, he said, Ghana had achieved a significant milestone by reaching an agreement with its public creditors, and commended France and China, Co-chairs of the Official Creditors Committee, for their positive roles in that achievement.

“We have also intensified our engagement with our external bondholders on the principles of transparency, fair treatment, consistency with the IMF debt sustainability analysis and good faith.

We are focused and committed to accelerating the process.

We are committed to concluding the external debt restructuring process as soon as possible, so we move past the crisis.

 This will enable us to complete substantially projects that have been constrained due to financial challenges,” he added.

13 Projects

President Akufo-Addo announced that 13 priority projects had been transferred onto the government budget within the same fiscal space to ensure their completion.

These include the Kumasi International Airport, which was 98 per cent complete and was expected to be completed by May.

Projects such as the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Maternity Block in Kumasi, the Takoradi Interchange, the Obetsebi-Lamptey Interchange in Accra, the University of Environment and Sustainable Development Project at Bunso in the Eastern Region, phase two of the construction of roads in Tamale, and the construction of the 84-kilometre railway line between Tema and Akosombo will also be completed.

President Akufo-Addo said an alternative source of funding had also been secured for the reconstruction and completion of the La Hospital Project, and that the contractor had been paid an advance mobilisation of 15 per cent, representing $7.5 million.

The project commenced effectively in January this year and will be completed in 28 months. 

Digitalisation Government

President Akufo-Addo said unlike last year when he came to the House with a fat book containing details of the road projects around the country, copies of which were given to each member, “this year, we are taking things to a higher level”.

He described his administration as “the Digitalisation Government, led by my indefatigable Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (Dr Digitalisation), who was coming up with a tracker app that will allow everyone to check on every project being undertaken by the government.”

Dubbed “Performance Tracker”, it will afford Ghanaians the opportunity to check and satisfy themselves with the status of the projects and their location, and urged the MPs to stop by and make a physical inspection if they were so minded.

“The Performance Tracker will be formally launched in March, and I am offering it as the device which would help bring accountability into your hands.

With the Performance Tracker, we can be sure that never again will pictures of an artist’s impression be offered as projects that have been executed.

“I am able to recommend the Performance Tracker in the sure knowledge that the Akufo-Addo Government has done more in education in terms of student enrolment, teacher training and employment, provision of infrastructure, than any government; we have similarly done more in health, agriculture, security, roads, railways, tourism, digitalisation, than any other government,” he stressed.

 “Thanks to the Performance Tracker, the President no longer has to go through lists, and I have the confidence to say that every performance indicator used shows we have done more in these seven years than in any of the eight years under the NDC,” he added.

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