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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is urging leaders on the African continent to see the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an investment in the African peoples.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the implementation of the SDGs will ensure that Africans build a better life, stressing that “no group of persons has more to gain from the successful implementation of the SDGs than the African peoples.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Monday, 11th December, 2017, when he delivered a speech at the Africa Roundtable on the UN SDGs, held at the Kempinski Hotel, Accra.
With the President of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, President Akufo-Addo noted that democracy gaining deep roots on the continent, which has resultedin robust and sustained economic growth, and Africa regaining her self-confidence on the international stage.
Despite these gains, the President noted that there are justifiably pressing demands to address issues of widespread unemployment, and the sense of hopelessness in the future, that compels large numbers of Africa‘s youth to travel across the Sahara desert and traverse perilous oceans in search of a better life in the developed world.
“As we endeavour to address these challenges and the huge expectations that citizens have, we have great prospects in using the SDGs to open up opportunities for all citizens, and do so in ways that Leave No one behind,” he added.
As co-Chair of the UN Secretary General’s Eminent Group of Advocates, President Akufo-Addo noted that “we have an exceptional opportunity going forward, in translating the extraordinary goals enshrined in the SDGs to end poverty, protect the planet and secure prosperity for all.”
The President indicated further that he has taken a strategic decision to prioritise championing accelerated implementation of the goals in Africa because the deficit in human development is highest on our continent.
“If we are to succeed in our noble ambition to transform our continent and pull masses of our people out of poverty and deprivation, Africa must pursue implementation of the SDGs with a strong sense of urgency, and an unparalleled commitment to act now. We do not have the luxury of time, when it comes to the pressing challenges of poverty, climate change, youth unemployment and the myriad of issues that confront the continent,” he said.
Steps to achieving SDGs
Achieving the SDGs, President Akufo-Addo noted, will take bold ambition in thought and actions, creativity, innovation, hard work, and, most critically, connecting to the positive and abundant energies of the youth
The story of Africa’s hitherto inability to develop, according to the President, is primarily the story of bad governance and our damaging colonial heritage.
“We must make governance and our governance systems work for the eradication of poverty and the creation of prosperity and wealth. And, as we embark on this path, we must commit to building accountable and transparent institutions,” he said.
The President continued, “We cannot grow out of poverty and achieve the SDGs through charity and the benevolence of others. If we are going to succeed to move Africa Beyond Aid, this cannot be a mere slogan. It will take doing business differently, and making the tough choices necessary to accelerate inclusive growth in the economy.”
With the private sector being a key accelerator to achieving the goals, President Akufo-Addo urged African leaders to do everything within their power to dismantle the labyrinth of constraints that impede the private sector and regional trade and integration.
“For our continent to achieve the SDGs and capture totally our grandeur, we must succeed in fully unleashing the potential of Africa’s women. This is an absolute priority for me, as it should be for one privileged to be labelled the African Union Gender Champion,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo, in concluding, stated that no matter what the challenges may be, “we must use the SDGs to propel Africa Beyond Aid. We must use the SDGs ultimately to change the narrative on Africa. And we can.”