The idea that African countries have long been independent and free to pursue their own destinies seems obvious to young Africans across the continent. Yet, the everyday reality often feels far from that. Some 50 to 60 years after independence for many countries, Africa’s fortunes seem to still closely aligned with developmental support and financial aid from former colonial rulers, the United States, the European Union or multilateral institutions like the World Bank and IMF.
After the most recent rounds of African debt forgiveness and rising commodity prices over the last decade, that conversation seemed to have shifted somewhat. There are now more calls for investment and trade rather than aid. But with the crash in commodity prices and many of the usual long-term structural problems laid bare again, the calls for support from wealthy nations comes up again. It seems deeply ingrained. However, few African leaders, regardless of their personal beliefs, ever publicly question the idea that international support is needed for development or, in the worst cases, day to day running of their countries.
This is probably why young Africans on social media have been heaping praise on Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo for his response to a question at a joint press conference in Accra with the visiting French president Emmanuel Macron.
The question by a local journalist was about whether France was going to strengthen its “support” for other African countries aside its former colonies where the majority of French aid is spent. Ghana won independence from Britain in 1957. After jokingly tossing the question between each other, Macron replied with fairly standard mundane rhetoric.
But when it was time for president Akufo-Addo to speak, knowing fully what he was about to say was controversial, he began by saying: “I hope that the comments I am about to make will not offend the questioner too much and some people around here”, the latter part widely interpreted as directed to his much younger counterpart.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that 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”, he stressed.
A visibly uncomfortable Macron fidgeted, appearing unsure which side of the room to turn his gaze as his African counterpart stopped short, saying while aid is appreciated, he wouldn’t be propositioning it.
I think there is a fundamental mistake on the issue in the question. We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support the western world or France or the European Union can give us. It will not work, it has not work and it will not work. Our responsibility is to charter a path which is about how we can DEVELOP OUR NATIONS OURSELVES. It is not right for a country like Ghana, 60 years after Independence to still have its health and education budget being financed on the basis of the charity of European Tax payers. By now we should be able to finance our basic needs ourselves and If we are look at the next 60 years as a period of transition, a period where by we can stand on our own feet, our perspective has not to be what the french tax payer whatever … they have in France
Watch Video and listen to what President Akuffo Addo told the French President, and what Ghana and Africa needs to do.