It is about time Africa took a second look at its relationship with Europe if it wants to be independent to pursue its own destinies that could develop the continent, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo told members of the African diaspora on Thursday.
“Africa and Europe are natural partners … but [it’s] a relationship that has to be different from what we’ve had up to now.
“That relationship has enriched Europe but has not enriched Africa. So, we need to change that dynamic and we can only do it by ourselves, taking the correct measures for our future,” Akufo-Addo said after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Ghanaian leader was addressing about 400 representatives of the African diaspora who were invited Thursday to the Elysée Palace for a frank debate about Africa.
“We have to get away from the idea that there is some Father Christmas who’s going to come and develop our continent for us. There is no Father Christmas, there is just us,” he was quoted by the AFP.
“So, Mr President, we’re saying the time has come for us to take our destiny in our own hands,” Akufo-Addo told Macron.
The Ghanaian leader had, recently, encouraged African Americans and the black diaspora to return to the country where their ancestors were kidnapped and enslaved after he declared 2019 the “Year of Return.’
He believes the diaspora has a major role to play in Africa’s development as it did in China.
“We can replicate what has been done in Asia if we maintain the discipline to move our continent forward,” he said, explaining that the Chinese diaspora has helped Beijing become a global powerhouse by investing almost 30 billion dollars in foreign investment.
“The Chinese diaspora has been able to transform the lives of millions of Chinese, why can we not replicate that same phenomenon on our continent?
“I’m saying to you that when the status of Africa changes, you will see the change in your own situation here in France, you won’t have to beg for anything else,” Akufo-Addo was quoted by RFI.
The president had, in 2017, won praises for a similar speech when Macron visited Ghana. Akufo-Addo made a bold remark about Africa’s continuous reliance on European countries for support.
Decades after gaining independence, much of Africa relies on foreign aid from former colonial rulers, the United States, the European Union, as well as, institutions like the World Bank and IMF.
In a joint press conference with Macron during his visit to the country, Akufo-Addo said, to the joy of many young Africans, that Africa “can no longer continue to make policies for ourselves, our regions and our continents on the basis of whatever the Western world or France or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work”.
“Our responsibility is to charter a path which is about how we can develop our nations ourselves,” he said.
Meanwhile, as part of celebrations marking the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019”, the government of Ghana recently announced that it will confer citizenship to 200 members of the African-American-Caribbean Diaspora group currently settled in the West African nation.
Ghana is the only country in the 21st century that has legally offered to resettle people of African descent in Africa. In the year 2000, Ghana became the first African country to officially open its doors to people of African descent from all over the world.
The West African country passed the “Right of Abode” law which allows any person of African descent to apply and be granted the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely.
This was followed by the launch of the Diaspora Affairs Bureau under the foreign affairs ministry in 2014 to manage the migration and engage the diaspora to provide a sustainable link with various government agencies to achieve development and investment goals.
Over 3,000 African-Americans and people of Caribbean descent are estimated to be living in Ghana. The Diaspora Affairs Bureau has expedited the acquisition of the permanent residency which was earlier delayed by bureaucratic processes.
Ghana was home to pan-Africanists like George Padmore, Maya Angelou, W. E. B. Du Bois, Pauli Murray among others who emigrated after the country’s independence in 1957 after establishing a friendship with the first president Kwame Nkrumah who himself had studied in the United States.