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03 April 2014

Transcript Of Remarks By H. E. President John Dramani Mahama Of Ghana At The 4th Eu-Africa Summit Working Session On “Work And Prosperity”

Many thanks Chair for the opportunity.
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation for the strong bonds that continue to exist between the EU and Africa, based on both our historical antecedents and our shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The theme of prosperity is especially important to Africa as a continent because it happens to be the continent with the fastest growing population in the world.  Indeed, Africa’s demography is fast changing with an increasingly youthful and increasingly urbanized dimension. My sub-region, the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS,) as a subset of the continent, shows the same demographic characteristics.
This increasingly youthful and urbanized population presents great opportunities if we harness and handle it properly, or it could pose grave danger if we do not plan properly for it.

That is why the concept of prosperity and the creation of wealth are of utmost importance in West Africa.
Our region possesses the resources to build a decent and dignified life for every one of our people. Extensive natural resources, educated and skilled human resources, rich arable lands, all represent opportunities for creating a prosperous future for our people. What we need is partnerships with our friends so that we can take full and proper advantage of these opportunities.

West Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in Africa, in terms of economic growth.  Growth in GDP averaging 6-7 per cent is creating opportunity for bilateral partnerships and public-private partnerships. Companies from the European Union are some of the biggest investors in the economies of West Africa. We, in ECOWAS, will continue to work to create an even better enabling environment to attract foreign investment from the EU and other parts of the world.

Our key areas of interest include infrastructure development, agriculture, tourism and hospitality, as well as, energy. In the energy sector, the creation of the West African Power Pool, which has resulted in the interconnection of our transmission grids, allows Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to invest in power generation, so that their power can be easily shared or distributed across the sub-region.
Infrastructure development creates opportunities for construction companies and financiers to partner with our countries in the development of Public-Private Partnership (or PPP) projects, especially in such areas as road construction, railways and port or harbor expansions. But perhaps the area that can more easily generate and spread prosperity is the Agriculture sector.  ECOWAS countries have adopted our version of the Common Agricultural Development Programme.  Individual countries are implementing their national Agricultural Investment programmes.

The clear vision here is the modernization of Agriculture. The challenge is, how to modernize agriculture without provoking a dislocation of the mass of our rural population that could then trigger increased rural-urban migration. Agricultural production has been growing about 3.7 per cent– a rate that is higher than the rate of population growth. But we must invest more in agriculture to ensure food security in the sub-region, especially considering that the sub-regional population could be increasing from the current 300 million to about 450 million by the year 2050.

We have the natural or mineral resources and we have the people or human capital. What we need most urgently should be partnerships and investments.
ECOWAS is concluding negotiations with the EU on the Economic partnership Agreements of EPAs, and I know I can count on the EU to realize this vision of prosperity to our people.
I thank you for your attention.

~~~ END ~~~

Source:  The Presidency - Republic of Ghana


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