Index 
 Föregående 
 Nästa 
 All text 
Debatter
XML 27k
Tisdagen den 14 december 2021 - Strasbourg Reviderad upplaga

6. Högtidligt möte - Ghana
Anföranden på video
PV
MPphoto
 

  Presidente. – Colleghe e colleghi, è un onore oggi avere qui con noi nella nostra plenaria il Presidente del Ghana, un paese con cui abbiamo molte relazioni, con cui vogliamo sviluppare cooperazione. È un segnale molto importante di attenzione dell'Unione europea con un importante paese africano. Darei subito la parola al Presidente per il suo discorso.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana. – Mr President, Members of the European Parliament, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank David Maria Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, for the honour of the invitation to deliver this address on developments in Ghana and Africa, and our country’s priorities in the post-COVID era. The Ghanaian people and their government express to this House, and to the European Union, their appreciation of the warm hospitality extended to their President and his delegation in Luxembourg, Brussels and here, in Strasbourg, and their best wishes for the continued success of the European Union. We, in Ghana and in Africa, have followed the EU story keenly, and we are hopeful that sooner, rather than later, we will be able to replicate the successes you have chalked over the years.

The peoples of Europe and Africa have been dealing with each other from the beginnings of time. Our histories are intrinsically linked, there are tales told that stretch the imagination, there are incontestable physical proofs of the relationship dotted around both continents, there are painful and indelible memories, and there are the ones that bring smiles.

At its narrowest point, only 15 kilometres separate Europe and Africa in the Strait of Gibraltar. Partially due to their close proximity, relations between the two continents have always been intertwined. Throughout history, the prosperity, stability, and security of one region has directly affected the other.

The two continents have had the most tumultuous relationship. There has been conquest, there has been occupation, there have been attempts at assimilation, there has been exploitation and there has been resentment. We have influenced each other’s culture, in terms of language, music, food and clothes, but one would hesitate to say that the Africans and Europeans can really claim to know each other.

It was Europe, our closest neighbour, after all, that gave us the notorious sobriquet of the Dark Continent. This may be an appropriate occasion to say that we, in Africa, have not always regarded Europeans and Europe as the most straightforward people we have known. We have many synonyms for Europeans, some of which are not the most complimentary. There is little doubt, however, that Europe has had the most dominant external influence on Africa through language, religion and governance systems.

Anyone who follows the conversations and debates in the EU would list three main subjects that dominate discussions: the COVID-19 pandemic, Border and Immigration Control, and Environment and Climate Change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed the greatest test to humanity in these initial decades of the 21st century. If you were sitting in West Africa, as we in Ghana were at the beginning of 2020, and looking forward to a year that promised record levels of economic growth, you would understand the severity of the blow that we have been dealt by the pandemic. It gives us no respite that other countries, with much stronger and bigger economies, have been struggling with the effect of the lockdowns and economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Take your minds back, if you will, to the predictions in March and April last year; the experts were united that Africa was going to be hit dramatically, and, because of her relatively weak public health systems, her streets would be littered with dead bodies, when the virus reached the continent. Mercifully, and by the Grace of God, the predictions have not come to pass, and, so far, Africa has not witnessed the dire scenes that we feared.

Watching the world from Accra, it appeared to us as though the experts, and for experts, you might read ‘Europeans’, which is one of our synonyms for experts, were disappointed that Africans were not dying as had been predicted. We were not given credit for quickly following the science as recommended, when many leaders in Europe were still fighting ideological battles, and seeking to lay blame on the source of the virus, rather than uniting to fight it.

At every stage, we in Africa have been dismayed to discover that every attempt was being made to make COVID-19 also an African disease. Thus, the narrative emerged that it was not really that Africans were not dying from the pandemic, we had to be covering up the true level of infections.

It has been a sad experience for us, in Africa, to be caught up in the vicious vaccine politics that engulfed the world, once the vaccines were ready for the market.

We remain grateful for the donations of vaccines through platforms such as COVAX, which was good enough to send its very first consignment, anywhere in the world, to Ghana. The unsavoury politics of vaccine nationalism we are witnessing could, however, potentially derail global efforts made at containing the pandemic. Till date, less than 10% of Africa has been vaccinated, in comparison to the EU, for example, which, as at August, had vaccinated seventy percent 70% of its population. With countries on the continent still not being able to have sufficient access to vaccines in the requisite numbers, we, like the World Health Organization, are worried that the phenomenon of hoarding vaccines will worsen even further, as countries begin to administer booster shots in response to the threat posed by the Omicron variant of the virus.

Let me use this occasion to reiterate the strong opposition of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of whose Authority I have the privilege to be current Chair, to the decision taken by countries, including those in the EU, to single out African countries for the imposition of travel bans. Omicron has been discovered in over 40 countries, with reports indicating that this variant was present in the Netherlands way before it was discovered in South Africa. The world should be grateful to the South African scientists, whose knowledge and expertise in genomic sequencing enabled them to identify the new variant. Plaudits, not the condemnation of their peoples, should have been their portion. Why is there not a travel ban imposed on the Netherlands, but against South Africa, one might ask? I am a firm believer in the statement that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe.’ Let us help make vaccines available to all parts of the world, encourage our citizens to take the jab, and we would win the fight against COVID faster and together.

We have all learnt some very painful lessons from this pandemic. We, in Africa, need to build up our health delivery systems to enable us to withstand future crises, and we are doing so. In Ghana, we have launched what we call Agenda 111, which seeks to build district hospitals in each district of Ghana where there is none, so that ordinary people can have ready access to medical care. We have decided to set up a National Vaccine Institute, which will supervise the domestic production of vaccines across several sectors, including anti-COVID-19 ones, led by the private sector and the business community. We need to be self-reliant, and shed the image of beggars living on charity, aid and handouts, and make better and more intelligent use of our abundant natural resources, in order to pull ourselves out of poverty into prosperity. These are not new aspirations; they have simply been reinforced by the lessons of the pandemic.

Mr President, from afar, and even after the trauma of Brexit, we find most admirable the European project of political and economic integration that brings together 27 nations in the EU. The advantages of a common market of 450 million people and the power behind a parliament that represents such a group, are evident. It shows when a disunited Africa tries to negotiate a trade deal with the EU. It is a battle of unequals that we can never win.

It shows when the EU is able to impose sanctions on individual African countries, and the rest can only look on in impotent rage. It shows when a bomb in Kampala leads to a warning for all travel to East and Central Africa, and we are expected to accept that a terrorist attack in Belgium has no effect on France or the Netherlands or Luxembourg.

It is quite likely that, for many Europeans today, the image that is raised in their minds at the mention of Africa and Africans is the problem of border and immigration control in the EU. Never mind that for hundreds of years, the traffic might have been from Europe into Africa, today the reality is of desperate Africans being washed onto the coast of Lampedusa.

We, in Ghana, and, indeed, in Africa, consider this phenomenon more of a problem for us than for Europe. It is a reflection of our failure that conditions in our countries should be such that a young person would think of subjecting himself or herself to the dangers and indignities of the perilous journeys to get to Europe.

We, in Africa, the governments and the peoples, owe it to ourselves, to our young people, in particular, to make sure that nobody has to undertake such journeys.

There is a lot we have to do to develop our countries, and improve the conditions to make them attractive as places to stay and not flee, but maybe there is something you in the EU might also do to contribute to finding a solution to the problem.

I would like to suggest that a fairer trading system between Europe and Africa, that would lead to a faster development rate in Africa, might offer a less painful route than any aid. That will stimulate growth in Africa, and lead to the creation of more jobs. Whatever money that Europe might lose from a change in the present arrangement will not come anywhere near what Europe currently spends to keep out unwanted, would-be immigrants. Migration, however, is only one issue of importance between Europe and Africa. Trade, energy, climate change, the illicit outflows of money from Africa to Europe, human and drug trafficking, transnational cybercrimes, democratic governance, and human rights, are among the joint concerns for the two continents bound together by history, culture, and geography.

A very important plank for our mutual prosperity would be the EU’s strong support to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA links 54 markets, covering 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of USD 3 trillion into a single market. It is the world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organization (WTO) itself. By 2050, it will cover an estimated 2.5 billion people, and have over a quarter of the world’s working age population. Imagine the business and investment opportunities offered by the infrastructure required to link these markets more effectively. And imagine the business opportunities that this huge market would offer for manufacturing and services firms from European countries that could establish production facilities in Africa to serve the African markets. And with the accelerated growth that would result from all of these, the market opportunities for exporters from European countries could be truly amazing!

A well developed and prosperous Africa would be good, not just for us in Africa, but would benefit Europe as well. History has taught us that a rich trading partner, operating within a fair trading system, brings prosperity to both sides, far more than the exploitation of a poor partner.

As it becomes clearer to all of us, the problems that face the world are more likely to be quickly resolved when we are all prosperous, than when half the world is immersed in poverty.

The problems of the environment, and climate change, in particular, can only be properly addressed when we are able to deal with poverty. A hungry, homeless, jobless person has not got much at stake in the battle we want to fight for the survival of the planet.

It is also not likely that the underdeveloped part of the world will want to serve as the forest reserve or museum to save the planet for the developed, prosperous world. I happen to believe that no one needs to be poor for others to be rich.

We are fully committed to the necessity to act to save the planet from climate degradation. Indeed, our continent, for instance the example of Lake Chad, has been the hardest hit from the adverse effects of climate change. We believe, however, that asking Africa to abandon, forthwith, the exploitation of her abundant natural resources, is to condemn Africa to perpetual poverty. The developed world is responsible for 76% of global carbon emissions, whilst Africa is responsible for 4%. There is, therefore, the obvious need for a balance between the social, economic and environmental imperatives of climate action, if equitable global development is to be achieved. There is enough on our planet to enable all of us to be prosperous in a sustainable world.

We, in Ghana, continue to benefit from our partnership with the EU on the sustainable development of our cocoa industry, and the implementation of the Green Ghana Project, which seeks to plant, in Ghana, 10 million trees every year.

Mr President, our two continents do not seem to be able to do without one another. So, what can we do to bring about a closer relationship that deals with the centuries of distrust?

Taking a look through the paperwork, it is obvious that it is not for want of effort that there is not a formal document that spells out relations between AU and EU. The Joint AU-EU strategy document, for example, has gone through a lot of work on both sides, and seems to have simply gone into hibernation.

It is worth recalling that it was set up as a move from a donor-recipient relationship, to one of equals. However, the intended paradigm shift, to alter fundamentally European and African relations, has not really taken place, and it is obvious that both sides need to come back to the table, and give the document a new breath of fresh air to bring it back to life. We would, in the process, identify the sticky points that have been holding an agreement back.

Just as attachment to democratic values is a basic prerequisite for membership of the European Union, so is commitment to democratic principles a necessary condition for membership of the African Union. The convergence of views on democratic governance enables a more focused discussion whenever there appears to be divergence or disagreements on governance on either side. It provides a historic opportunity to reinforce the positive relations between our two continents, which the joint AU-EU strategy should stress. Ghana, for her part, is proudly a nation governed by the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law, an aspiring modern nation. She is acknowledged as a beacon of democracy and stability in Africa, which has witnessed eight general elections, five presidential transitions, and three peaceful transfers of power from one party to another through the ballot box, in the 28-year period of the 4th Republic. Long may the 4th Republic endure.

At the core of the strategy is the understanding that relations between the two continents must be premised on equal participation and representation. For the first time, this strategy put both partners on an equal footing, and raised expectations that members of the African Union would not just be the ‘recipients’ of pre-packaged assistance from the European Union, but would sit side-by-side with the EU at the decision-making table.

If this should materialise, it will spell a true transformation of relations between our two peoples, and it will be a pity if we do not seize the opportunity to chart such a new path. In trying to chart this new path, we cannot, however, underestimate the enormity of the history we have to overcome. Our elders, in Ghana, say that if you do not know where you are coming from, you are not likely to know where you want to go to either.

Trade relations between Africa and Europe have evolved through history, under the influence of strategies and policies that were initially imposed on Africa by Europe, then developed for Africa by Europe, and are now being made in collaboration with Africa.

These relations take their form and content from mechanisms originally established during colonisation that were maintained until independence. It is clear that a new paradigm has to be defined, which will be dependent on the structural transformation of African economies from raw material producing and exporting economies, to value-adding, industrialising economies. This will enable Africans to trade at the high end of the global value chain, dealing in products we make and grow. Out of this, a robust trading system between Europe and Africa will be created, which will generate mutual prosperity for the peoples of the two continents.

It is my personal expectation and hope that the February AU-EU Summit will address concrete matters, such as focusing the support of the EU for the AU on growth-enhancing interventions, especially on infrastructure and skills development; simplifying EU processes, particularly for infrastructure projects; establishing a joint AU-EU Technical Committee to design procedures for processing infrastructural projects in Africa, including for public-private projects; defining effective means to stop the illicit flows of substantial monies from Africa to Europe; and building strategic partnerships hinged on Africa’s growth and transformation. This will be a win-win for African countries and European countries.

The maintenance of peace and security, Mr President, remains a critical challenge in Africa. Although the magnitude of the challenge varies from state to state, countries on the continent are generally grappling with extraordinary sources of threats that undermine both state and human security. In the Sahel Region of West Africa, for example, the terrorist and jihadist menace and presence, which has provoked so much violence and instability in the area, are directly linked to the disintegration of Libya. We believe that the sooner Libya can be returned to normalcy, the better it will be for the stability of West Africa, and Europe has a big role to play in that, having regard to Europe’s own role in Libya’s process of disintegration. Sustained, concerted efforts to support the present peace efforts in Libya, and the prospective elections there, should be major items on the EU’s foreign policy agenda.

On behalf of the Government and people of Ghana, I want to thank members of the European Union for the support offered to Ghana’s recent successful candidature for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the years 2022-2023. Ghana received the highest number of votes on the day, which could not have been possible without the active support of the EU. One of Ghana’s major considerations will be to make sure that Africa’s voice is heard loud and clear in the deliberations of the Security Council, both on matters affecting the continent and on global issues. An important position that Ghana will advance on the Council is that, having regard to the conflicts on the continent, now is not the time for the Security Council to reduce its peacekeeping mandates on the African continent. On the contrary, it should look to increasing them. The international community must not be caught in a ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ scenario.

Mr President, I dare not come to this Parliament and omit to talk about one reality that could serve us both in trying to bring the peoples of Africa and Europe together for our common good. There does exist in Europe a sizeable community of the African Diaspora. These are people who have left Africa physically, and are living in the various countries of Europe, but who retain strong emotional links with the continent. They often have local content knowledge that is useful to ease difficulties if their expertise is brought in quickly. Until recently, diaspora groups and organisations have operated in an informal and exclusive manner. Now, thanks to inexpensive transportation and rapid communication, they are able to exert far greater influence on their homelands than ever before. This advantage enables diaspora communities to build up vast transnational networks linking globalisation to the local conditions of their respective countries of origin. They are a ready source of expertise that we can all use to speed up this conversation between Africa and Europe.

There is a matter of national importance that I would put before this Parliament. In June 2021 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary approved, after requisite investigation, the removal of Ghana from the list of jurisdictions subject to enhanced supervision, i.e. the so-called grey list. EU procedures indicate that, within 30 days of such a finding by FATF, the formal processes for the delisting of the affected countries, should be completed. This requires a delegated act proposed by the Commission to the Parliament for its approval. Six months later, this has not happened in the case of Ghana. I would appeal to the honourable Members of this Parliament to see to it that the formal process for the delisting of Ghana from the ‘grey list’ be completed as soon as possible.

Mr President, I have tried to have a frank and unadorned conversation with this famous House. I believe you have invited me precisely for that purpose, and I hope that several of the observations I have made will provide fodder for us at the forthcoming AU-EU Summit in Brussels, in February next year, which must succeed, and put Europe-Africa relations on a higher pedestal.

Ours is a long, sometimes tortuous journey, there is a lot of heartache and joy behind the relationship, there has to be, there are not many relationships in this world that have a longer tenure. It is up to us, in this generation, to move on from the pain of our ancestors and the privileges of your ancestors, and create a happier and mutually respectful relationship between Africa and Europe. The leaps of faith on both sides will be difficult, but eminently doable. The positive aspects of the relationship can be a tremendous force for good in the world.

Together, we can and we should make it. I thank you for your attention.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Presidente. – Grazie al Presidente, lo ringraziamo per le sue parole, per il suo messaggio e per gli impegni che naturalmente attendono l'Unione europea e il Ghana e molti paesi africani.

Grazie per la Sua presenza, è stato davvero un onore ascoltarla.

 
  
  

VORSITZ: RAINER WIELAND
Vizepräsident

 
Senaste uppdatering: 23 februari 2022Rättsligt meddelande - Integritetspolicy