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Africa’s Strategic Priorities and Global Role by H.E. John Dramani Mahama



Thank you, Alex Vines, and Chatham House for the invitation.

I am happy to have been able to join you from Brussels where I had very productive discussions on the future perspectives in the framework of Africa- EU relations at the invitation of the European Strategic Initiative.

It is gratifying to be back here at Chatham House, which through the Africa Programme events, has offered a wide array of African Leaders across various fields, a unique platform to discuss our continent in ways not seen elsewhere.

The discussions here have helped shape international opinion on Africa and offered a useful focus on its most important subjects. I hope to continue in that tradition by sharing some thoughts on the continent’s present outlook and future while dwelling on the situation in my own country, Ghana.

Africa’s political and governance history is quitewell known. However, on this occasion, it bears brief recollection to set the tone for an informed assessment of Africa’s prospects and future trajectory.

It helps a bit that I have a bias towards history, which I majored in at the university in my
formative years. And as the famous British statesman Winston Churchill opined, “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.”

The African story is one that evokes immediate memories of colonial exploitation and
domination with abundant cheap labour to be used for raw material production and export to
build the magnificent metropolises of this world.

Centuries earlier, we were at the short end of the stick in the slave trade as our best and
strongest found themselves bound in chains and bundled unto overcrowded slave ships, never to return.

However, by the middle of the 20th century, there had emerged a young cadre of Pan
Africanists, determined to free the continent from its colonial shackles, who worked, at the
peril of their freedoms and very lives. They eventually launched a liberation struggle that
reverberated across the continent.

Names like Kwame Nkrumah – under whom my father, E. A. Mahama, served diligently as a
Minister of State, Nyerere, Kaunda, Sekou Touré easily roll off my tongue in this regard.
Soon enough, after a spirited fight, colonialism fell in one country after another, culminating in
the exhilarating liberation of South Africa from the worst form of colonial subjugation—
apartheid. The result—freedom for Nelson Mandela after 27 years in jail.

Africa in the post-colonial independent era was awash with hope for a much brighter
tomorrow. We were, however, soon to be enmeshed in a contestation over the most suitable development paradigm and ideology.
Some faced West and others faced East. We in Ghana, as famously declared by our first
President, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, faced neither East nor West. We faced forward and
experimented along the line with whatever paradigm we deemed exigent at a particular time.

Not enough time was afforded for these experiments to yield sustainable fruits because a combination of disillusionment and adventurism ushered in military dictatorships and in many cases, wanton misrule.

By the mid-eighties to early nineties, it had become obvious that democratic governance and economic reform were imperative to overcome the suffering and stagnation that years of poor governance had spawned. Under the aegis of the Bretton Woods institutions and other multilateral partners, several African countries launched economic recovery programmes with varying degrees of success.

In the case of Ghana, I can say, that through these reforms, we performed what could be
likened to an economic miracle. From the throes of bankruptcy, hyperinflation, and years of negative growth in the mid-seventies and early eighties, the economy was restored to the path of growth. Measurable and impactful progress could be seen!

Thirty years ago, we were even able to seamlessly integrate up to one million of our
compatriots who were unceremoniously deported from Nigeria back to Ghana without causing too much of an upset to our economic outcomes. Analysts have suggested the eviction was Nigeria’s retaliation – in 1983 – to the dastardly deportation of other Africans including Nigerians from Ghana under the Aliens Compliance Order of 1969.

In the decade that followed that period, millions of Ghanaians were lifted out of poverty
through progressive policies and interventions. Similar success stories could be recounted for
other African countries. Between those heady days and now, the story of Africa has been
patchy even though progress has not completely eluded us.

Civil strife, famine, genocide, and a relapse into bad governance can all be squeezed into the
narrative in the last few decades.

At present, save for a few countries on the continent, our economies are largely still
underdeveloped and underpinned by the colonial economic model of raw material export and little manufacturing or industrialization.
Fragile governance institutions and corruption remain major bottlenecks. Insecurity, terrorism,
and insurgency have all reared their heads across some countries. In the last few years, we
have seen a resurrection ofwhat we had believed to be the extinctspecter of military takeovers in some West African countries.

Mammoth unemployment and limited economic opportunities continue to confront Africa.

This has been exacerbated by the youth bulge; and projected to worsen by 2030 if not
addressed. Obviously, a threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and
Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Africa being demographically the most youthful continent, should have been an opportunity
to be harnessed. However, the limited opportunities available to Africa’s youth has created a distressing scenario and culminated in the biggest threat facing the continent and the world now.

Africa has always been an opportunity. That has never been in contention. What is in debate,
is the extent to which Africa has been an opportunity for itself and exploited its advantage for the benefit of itself. The story of the contribution of Africa has always been one of fascination.

From its origin as the cradle of humankind, the continent has through the ages left an indelible
mark on the pages of history.

The echoes of the Arab spring, which took place barely a decade ago, still ring in our ears and
serve as too clear a reminder of what possible and probable danger the continent faces if the
situation does not improve – and quickly so. The prevalence of cybercrimes including internet-based fraud (‘Sakawa’) and other offences spill beyond Africa and affects the rest of the world.

This must be addressed head-on!
The foregoing by no means suggests that there is no positive news from Africa.

There is a lot to celebrate on the continent.
There are many thriving democracies in Africa with some well governed countries and strong
economies. Information Communication Technology (ICT) uptake is one area where strong growth has been recorded.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa was recording the fastest rate of new broadband
connections, and mobile data traffic was projected to rise astronomically between 2017 and 2020 – growing by a CAGR of about 46% according to Statista.

The E-commerce sector was also experiencing exponential growth as our population attained
more awareness and became more reliant on online retailing. That said, there is still much to
worry about.

It is a fact that Africa has suffered historical injustices like slavery, colonialism, and an unjust world economic order –which have held us back for centuries and deprived us of a level playing field to develop rapidly compared to other continents. But it is no longer tenable to continue to blame these events predominantly for our present state. That will be absolving corrupt African leaders of blame for mismanaging the resources of the continent.

We have had sufficient time and opportunities over the last few decades to change our story
and narrative while crafting and implementing visions that would transform the lives of the
over a billion people who dwell on the continent.

Yes, globalization has inherent disadvantages for Africa. But Africa can and must rise to the
occasion by building and working towards continental unity as we strengthen partnerships with the rest of the world. To achieve Africa’s Agenda 2063 goals, we must let the world buy into

Africa’s priorities and global role. In most cases, we have simply squandered opportunities.
Ghana also comes to mind here. In a little under six weeks from today, Ghana will mark sixty-
six (66) years of nationhood. Far from being an occasion to celebrate independence and the
successes and achievements of nationhood, we will mark this day under the yoke of the worst
economic situation in decades.

We are currently bankrupt and burdened with a national debt we are simply not able to pay.
You may have learnt over the past few weeks that the Ghanaian government has defaulted on
the servicing of both external and domestic debt.

There is currently, a huge uproar over a controversial debt restructuring programme under which the middle-class of Ghana could be wiped out if plans to have them forfeit proceeds of government bonds on which they rely for investment and sustenance, are followed through.

In absolute terms, up to about six (6) million people could be deprived of their life savings and investments.

Ghana’s banking and financial sector could also be under threat of insolvency if no suitable
adjustments are made to the debt restructuring plans.

Our present economic situation, underscored by our bankrupt status, sharply contrasts with
our fortunes a little over a decade ago. At the time, our economy posted some of the highest
growth rates in the world with a robust and fast-growing non-oil sector.

Today, many of our economic indicators are pointing south. We have in the last month entered the hyperinflation era with an inflation rate of 54%. Our currency has in the past few months been counted among the worst performing in the world, plummeting by as much as 54% in value within the first ten months of 2022. Widening budget deficits have characterized economic performance since 2018.

A severe cost of living crisis fueled by ever-rising prices of basic goods has imposed extreme hardship on Ghanaians as the government struggles to meet some of its most basic commitments in areas like education and health. Unemployment stood at a staggering 13%, the highest in recent memory.

It would be no hyperbole to assert that our present state bears an uncanny resemblance to
the late seventies and eighties.

How was a country with such bright prospects, only a decade ago, brought to its knees so
quickly when it should have made far more progress? The present trouble with our economy stems from gross mismanagement and in some instances sheer recklessness.

Government failed to sustain the gains made after our last IMF programme, which brought
stability to the management of the Ghanaian economy. Corruption has also contributed
significantly to bring us to this distressing juncture.

Government has been quick to pass off the COVID pandemic as a reason for this poor economic record. Yet, available data shows that many of our neighbours in West Africa and further afield, posted much better economic performances than we did during and after the pandemic.

The World Bank through its Ghana Country Director has also stated unequivocally that Ghana’s economy was in distress before the pandemic occurred.

The purpose of recounting these failures, driven my mismanagement and corruption, in Ghana
is to demonstrate how Africa depletes scarce resources generated from both the continent
and development partners. Instead of thinking innovatively to address the fundamental
economic problem, many leaders worsen it.
Using management of the COVID-19 pandemic as a case study my own country Ghana once a
beacon of Africa has come up for mention for dissipating domestic and donor funds.

A recently published audit report by the Auditor General of Ghana into receipts and
expenditures on COVID-19 exposes staggering instances of corruption running into billions of
Ghana cedis.

Over GH¢21.8 billion was mobilised to mitigate the impact of the pandemic from the World
Bank, IMF, the European Union (EU), the African Development Bank (AfDB), Ghana’s
Contingency Fund, and from the sale of Bank of Ghana COVID-19 Bonds.

Hiding under the “emergency situation”, government jettisoned ourfinancial and procurement laws and refused to use the GIFMIS system, which is the agreed budget and accounting digital platform to avoid thorough scrutiny. Such financial malpractices discourage delivery of grants and concessionary loans to Africa.

I have indicated that we need a forensic audit into the receipts and expenditure of the COVID-
19 funds in Ghana. The forensic audit may be extended to other countries in Africa to restore
investor confidence as we build the Africa we want.

Let me add that, Africa needs to build stronger institutions to address institutional and political
decay. In building stronger institutions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Africa must also be prioritized. On this note, let me commend many CSOs on our Continent that are holding governments accountable.

Compounding the socio-economic malaise on the continent, is the erosion of public confidence in state institutions. Many of these state institutions set up to be independent arbiters and offer appropriate checks and balance on the executive arms of government, have in recent years served more as extensions of the government.

In many cases, as it is the case in Ghana, there has been overt efforts by government to weaken these institutions and bend them to its will.

A case in point was the ouster of the then Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission and two other senior officials by the President of Ghana over clearly flimsy and contrived reasons.

They were then replaced with persons with noticeable leanings towards the incumbent party and whose actions have served to undermine public confidence in their independence and neutrality, two ingredients which are vital prerequisites for the sustenance of Ghana’s acclaimed democracy.

Relatedly, Ghana’s Judiciary has also come under public scrutiny in recent years for what is
widely perceived as bias towards the government. Until the advent of this government, our judiciary had commanded tremendous public respect and confidence for their firmly independent posture. This is arguably no longer the case.

This is a worry to investors because one of the factors that boosts confidence of investors to
place their money in a country, is the faith they have that in event of a business dispute, they
can expect the justice system to be a fair and neutral arbiter.

For Africa to succeed in achieving her strategic priorities, we must strengthen institutions
including the judiciary and grant them their deserved independence and freedoms as
prescribed by law. I encourage you not to lose hope in Ghana and Africa because it is far more
useful to look forward to the future with hope than to brood over the present with despair.
I am an eternal believer in the potential and positive energies of Africa and her youth.

In December, next year, what I consider to be the most important elections in Ghana’s history
will be held. The electioneering period will offer a scope for deeper discussions about Ghana’s
future and what needs to be done to get us out of the current economic quagmire and to avoid
a recurrence.

We in the opposition in Ghana are very clear on our vision for the country and how to build
the Ghana that we all want.

The first order of business for a new NDC administration is to restore macro-economic stability and ensure fiscal prudence while generating employment for many of our young people who are unsure of what the future holds.

Though the current economic distress is largely self-inflicted, it is very clear that unless we act
to insulate ourselves from these factors, whatever gains that are made going forward will unravel because of structural weaknesses.

The National Democratic Congress therefore commits itself to immediate structural reforms
based on a national dialogue and forging a broad national consensus that will lead to the
diversification of our economy and its production base; and the attraction of investment into industry, farming, agribusiness, the digital sector, and tourism.

We are determined to process our natural resources like cocoa, gold, bauxite, oil, copper while we build more robust capacity to respond to global energy shocks.

I invite you to look favourably at Ghana again because there is hope ahead! I also urge you to
partner Africa as we confront the challenges posed by climate change, emerging diseases,
terrorism, and cybercrimes to build a safer world.

Our borders are borderless because of globalization. Therefore, we must stand in support of one another.

As we look into the near future with optimism, there are instant solutions that must be found
to the crippling economic crisis, which has left a dark pall hanging over Ghana now.

At a continental level, I want to reiterate my international advocacy for a reinstitution and
extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to afford our countries some limited fiscal respite. I would similarly call for the expansion of the Common Framework for Debt Treatment Beyond the DSSI to help African countries access debt restructuring tools and

I have had cause to also state elsewhere, and I would repeat that the time has come for an
African version of a Marshal Plan. I note and applaud the Global Gateway Programme of the
EU that seeks to mobilize 300 billion Euros over the next seven years for infrastructure in Africa
and the rest of the developing world.

If Africa is to survive and be a source of hope for the rest of the world, then Africa as an
imperative must speedily harness the advantages it has to ensure inclusive growth for its people. With the continent boasting the world’s largest free trade area along with an over 1-billion-person market, Africa is prime, as reported by the World Bank, to carve out a new
developmental pathway.

Under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, 55 countries with a
combined GDP of over US$3.4 trillion will work together to present major opportunities for
shared growth and prosperity for Africa and the rest of the world.

I expect AfCFTA not to de-emphasize the prospects of SMEs as we promote new markets and encourage foreign investments. SMEs have sustained Africa and will continue to do so for a
long while. I also urge AfCFTA to secure intellectual property rights of Africans as we partner already mature businesses.

AFCTA will also need the support of the African Union for greater integration to allow for
greater labour mobility across Africa to support countries in need of critical human resource.
And AFCTA must not allow businesses with political connections to be prioritized over real
captains or champions of industry. Neither must innovations from the youth suffer because of lack of political connections.

All hope is not lost for Africa. Africa, including my country Ghana, has strategic priorities and is ready and willing to play its role in the global community.

To conclude, it is also of critical importance that regional bodies like the ECOWAS, SADC, EAC, CEMAC, the Arab Maghreb Union and African Union must be empowered to have a firmer grip on their member nations to address regional/ continental/ global challenges. Other
international bodies like the European Union and the TANA High-Level Forum for Security in
Africa, which I chair, must provide the needed support, including oversight and scrutiny of
activities likely to lead to serious consequences.

I stress on this point of oversight because we observe that the laxity in supervision and
oversight has given free reins to some leaders on the continent to wreak constitutional tyranny
on their people with some changing their country’s constitution so they could run for extended terms.

No single country in Africa can on its own attain the highest level of development when it is
surrounded by neighbouring countries engaging in full scale-conflict. It is therefore important
that there is stability and sustainable development in Africa, which will help lead to global security and prosperity.

With the right steps and visionary leadership as well as a willingness to dig deep and find
innovative solutions to the decades-old challenges, we must emerge a stronger force to reckon with.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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PDP Suspends National Chairman, Ayu at Ward Level




The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday announced the suspension of its National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, for alleged anti party activities.

Ayu was suspended by the PDP Ward Executives of his Igyorov Ward in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.

The PDP Ward Secretary, Vangeryina Dooyum, on behalf of Kashi Philip, who is the Ward chairman, told journalists in Makurdi, that the national chairman’s suspension followed his alleged anti party activities.

The secretary in a statement signed by 12 out of the 17 member Ward Executives, noted that the decision to suspend the National Chairman was reached after the leadership reviewed his conduct at the end of the just concluded general elections.

The secretary, who was flanked at the press conference by the ward chairman and other members of executive, read from the statement which announced Ayu’s suspension.

“We observed with utmost dismay that, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who is the National Chairman of the PDP worked against the success of the party in Igyorov Council Ward.

“It is on record that, he has also failed to pay his Annual Subscription Fees as provided under Section 8 (9) of the constitution of the PDP 2017 (As Amended).

“Further investigation also revealed that, he did not vote during the Governorship and State Assembly Elections held on March 18, 2023.

“It was also discovered that, most of his closest allies worked for the opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and hence, the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.

“In view of the foregoing, we hereby pass a Vote of No Confidence on Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and suspend him as a member of our party with immediate effect. The suspension takes effect from March 24, 2023.”

Recall that the PDP at the state level during the weekend passed a vote of confidence on Governor Samuel Ortom, whom the national chairman’s led executive at the apex level referred to its disciplinary committee.

The PDP in Benue State passed a vote of confidence on Ortom for what they described as his steadfast loyalty and selfless, sacrificial leadership to the party.

State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Bemgba Iortyom, in a statement signed on behalf of the party’s state working committee in Makurdi at the weekend called on its national body to rescind decision referring the governor to its disciplinary body.

“We have noted with grave concern the action taken yesterday by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in referring Governor Samuel Ortom to its Disciplinary Committee to answer to charges of anti party activities preferred against him.

“Benue PDP finds it difficult to understand the rationale by which anti party activities are determined at the National Secretariat by the NWC such as sees one out of the G-5 Governors singled out for punitive action on ground of that offence, and what the procedure is for meting out punitive measures against such anti party activities where some persons including Professor Dennis Ityavyar having been suspended without facing any disciplinary Committee.

“The party feels strongly that in fulfilling its duty as a state chapter it must remind the NWC of the implications of its current action against Governor Ortom and others.

“It is, therefore, a motion of the Benue PDP SWC that a Vote-of-Confidence be passed on Governor Samuel Ortom for his steadfast loyalty and selfless, sacrificial leadership to our great party, PDP.

“We equally call on the NWC to explore exhaustively options towards fostering reconciliation, unity, re-branding and repositioning of the party to recover its lost glory,” the statement reads partly.

The party further argued that the action runs in contempt of a subsisting court injunction restraining PDP at all levels from taking any punitive action against the Benue State Governor pending the determination of a substantive suit which is lying before a court of competent jurisdiction on the matter.

Daily Trust

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Declare Ogun Guber Polls Inclusive, Order Re-run, Group Tells INEC




A group, under the aegis of Vanguard for Democracy and Good Governance, has called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to desist from issuing the certificate of return to the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun.

In what it earlier term a ‘sham’, the group had earlier called on INEC to review the result of the just concluded governorship election in the state as, according to it, the election did not produce a winner yet.

In a communique made available to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, the group urged INEC to not issue a certificate of return to Governor Abiodun, as the governorship election is inconclusive by all standards.

“While we commend INEC on the introduction of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the result viewing portal (IREV) which have largely improved electoral conduct in the country, we make bold to say that the election in Ogun State, despite being marred with all forms of electoral malpractices, still did not produce a winner, in accordance with the Electoral Act.

“As clearly observed, INEC flippantly went ahead to announce a winner rather than declaring it inconclusive, as the margin between the top two leading candidates is far lesser than the total number of cancelled votes in some areas. In this case, the difference between Governor Dapo Abiodun of the APC who polled 276,295 and the 262,383 votes polled by Ladi Adebutu of the PDP was only 13,912, with cancelled votes amounting to 33,750.

“The Electoral Act 2022 is clear on what should be done in such circumstance. We hereby refer INEC to the article in our supreme Electoral Act which states that, “Where the difference between the winner and the loser is less than cancelled vote, the results should be inconclusive.”

“This particular case is one fraudulent one and INEC need do the needful rather than taking steps that attract an avoidable litigation and put the commission in bad light.

“On this note, we enjoin INEC to embrace justice by withholding the certificate of return in the Ogun guber until a rerun election is declared and conducted,’ the statement read in part.

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Osun: Governor Adeleke Floors Oyetola at Appeal Court




The Court of Appeal on Friday set aside an earlier election tribunal verdict that declared Gboyega Isiaka of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the last Osun state governorship election.

The court in its ruling confirmed Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party as the winner of the election.

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