President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has officially opened the 22nd Academy of African Business and Development (AABD) international Conference with a call on academia and participants to articulate cogent policies and come out with actionable proposals for consideration by African governments.
He said deliberations at the conference should lead to policies that will help strengthen African financial institutions to enable them take greater responsibilities for the financing of Africa’s development.
The President also charged participants to advocate for debt cancelation for African countries to provide a sound foundation for progress while proposing measures to help boost the capacity of African countries for domestic revenue mobilization.
The 22nd AABD Conference, being hosted by the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), is under the theme: “Sustainable Development beyond Aid: The focus for Africa?”. It will run till 21st May, 2022.
President Akufo-Addo, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony, said the theme for this year’s conference is an important subject for deliberation by all especially around this time when most countries are recuperating from the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He said the consequences of these major setbacks on fuel, food, logistics and the global supply chain are being felt by almost every country around the world.
He added that it is therefore imperative for Africa through the Africa Union to accelerate efforts geared at fostering internal collaboration and cooperation in the areas of trade, markets, resources and population.
President Akufo-Addo observed that the over-reliance on foreign aid by African countries is inimical to the growth and development of the continent, pointing out that it is time for Africa to enhance her efforts at self-sustenance and move to a situation beyond aid by looking inward and promoting intra-continental trade and export.
He said: “I am by no means saying there is no longer a place for aid in Africa or that we should disregard what aid has done for us in the past. Neither am I saying that the more advanced countries should cease honouring their aid commitments to African countries; or that we should turn our back on investments from outside.
“I am saying that African countries need to engage more closely, deeply and competitively through trade, investments, political cooperation and enhanced regional initiatives in peace and security.
“Together, African countries need to build our continent by building upon our strengths and holding each other up. Then, and only then, can we grow organically by wielding greater negotiating power to develop the continent of Africa.”
The President urged African countries to take advantage of the historic and unmined opportunities that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents to attain the desired prosperity and self-respect for countries on the continent.
In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of UPSA, Prof Abednego F. O. Amartey asserted that the Africa beyond aid agenda should not be a rhetoric, but rather an opportunity for African countries to break the cycle of dependency on donor communities by scaling up all economic, social and political interventions in order to be self-reliant.
He said the UPSA story of sustainable development beyond aid was an attestation that Africa could be self-reliant if pragmatic strategies and deliberate tactics are put in place towards self-sufficiency.
“The rapid expansion of the university, the increase in our admissions, the robust reputation we have built and jealously guard, the global recognition we have received and the countless awards we have received are all fruits of our growth based on internally generated funds,” Prof Amartey said.
“We cut out waste, we changed our mindsets, and we allowed prudent management to be the order of the day and that is what has brought us this far. UPSA has gone from being totally dependent on Government to a self-propelled engine of sustainable development without aid. UPSA Beyond Aid is working. Ghana Beyond Aid must work. Africa Beyond Aid can work.”
The annual AABD Conference brings together researchers, business practitioners, consultants, community leaders and policymakers from across Africa and around the world to engage in strategic dialogue aimed at fostering business and development on the continent.
The Conference also provides the opportunity for participants to rethink Africa’s development trajectory while exploring other critical issues of importance on the continent that require immediate attention.