Akufo-Addo justifies huge China loans for projects
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has mounted a strong defence of dealings with China following growing anxiety about China-Africa relations.
According to him, the country needed new ways of resolving critical developmental challenges since the traditional methods of tackling them would not provide the answers.
“It is obvious to us that the mode of development trajectory we had been on for many decades is not working” he stated.
Addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, President Akufo-Addo said that whilst Ghana took steps to educate and train her population, it must at the same time address its infrastructural deficit.
“We, in Ghana, must build roads, bridges, railways, ports, schools, hospitals, and we must create jobs to keep our young people engaged.
Seeks support and goodwill of the world
“We are trying a different one, and we would appreciate the support and goodwill of the world, especially in helping to stem the huge flow of illicit funds from the continent,” he added.
Rapid transformation from poverty to prosperity
President Akufo-Addo stressed that it was in everybody’s interest that countries counted amongst the poor of the world make a rapid transformation from poverty to prosperity.
Chart our own paths to prosperity
“We are determined in Ghana, and, increasingly, in more and more parts of Africa, to chart our own paths to prosperity, and pay our own way in the world. We are no longer interested in being a burden on others.”
Shoulder our own responsibilities
“We will shoulder our own responsibilities and build societies and nations that will be attractive to our youth.
Africa can do it
“We have the necessary sense of enterprise, creativity, innovation and hard work to engineer this transition. Hence, our vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid, indeed, of an Africa Beyond Aid,” he added.
President plays down growing anxiety
President Akufo-Addo played down the growing anxiety on China’s incursions into Africa, saying there was history to guide the continent’s dealing with the Asian economic giant.
Africa not being colonized by a new power
He said the situation where Ghana, like many countries in Africa, was forging relations with China was “not a uniquely Ghanaian or African phenomenon”, and was not the case that the continent was being colonized by a new power.
Red flags for China-Africa relations
China’s recent ties with Africa have raised red flags, with many raising concerns and criticizing China’s move.
Ghana has initiated plans to sign a $2 billion agreement for the construction of priority infrastructure projects by Chinese firm SynoHydro Corporation, in exchange for alumina processed from Bauxite deposits.
For experts who have cautioned government against such a move, they have referred Ghana to learn from the South-east Asian island nation Sri Lanka. In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government had to sign over its Hambantota Port on a 99-year lease to China after it could not meet its debt commitments for the construction of the $1 billion port which was constructed by the China Harbor Engineering Company.
There has also been controversy over perceived attempts by China to exert its soft power in Ghana by taking over Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television network platform via Chinese media firm, StarTimes.
In a similar situation in Zambia where StarTimes has invested US$273 million to help that country invest in backbone infrastructure in order to move from analogue to digital, it is reported that the Chinese have gained control over the Zambian media.
Well-established countries paying regular visits to China
The President noted that “rich and well-established countries have been paying regular visits to China, and seeking to open new economic ties and improve upon existing ones.
China’s first railways were built by Western companies
“It was at the turn of the 20th century that China’s first railways were built by Western companies, financed by Western loans to a nearly bankrupt Qing Dynasty, and it was under those circumstances that a certain strategic port called Hong Kong was leased for 99 years, and the rest as the saying goes, is history,” the President said.
China lending to Asia, Africa and Europe
He stated that “today, the former victim of Western Railways imperialism is lending billions to countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe to construct not only railroads, but also highways, ports, power plants and other infrastructure, and many businesses.”
Lessons from history
The historical echoes, President Akufo-Addo noted, are worrisome, but was confident that “we must and can learn from history”.
The 73rd UNGA is being held under the theme: “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”
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