Viewpoint: President Nana Akufo-Addo

Between 2017 and 2020 Ghana recorded an average GDP growth rate of 7%, among the highest in the world. In 2020 – when the global economy and sub-Saharan Africa’s contracted by 3.5% and 2.1%, respectively – Ghana was one of the few countries that registered positive GDP growth. This is a testament to the government’s Ghana Beyond Aid vision. While Covid-19 infection rates and deaths have been relatively low in sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of the pandemic has been damaging. According to the African Development Bank, the continent’s economies had still not returned to pre-pandemic levels of performance as of September 2021.

To vaccinate 70% of the region’s population in the shortest possible time, as is being done elsewhere in the world, means some 900m Africans have to be vaccinated. The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Taskforce programme, with manufacturing facilities in South Africa, is the largest and most far-reaching trade transaction since the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021. It is clear testimony to the benefits of domestic production and pooled procurement as envisioned by the AfCFTA agreement.

The country has succeeded in securing considerable quantities of the vaccines – about 26m doses – with more on the way. Thus far, we have administered 11m doses. We are still hoping to vaccinate some 20m people, Ghana’s entire adult population, as quickly as possible. The pandemic provided a great chance to rethink global economic cooperation, based on the principles of mutuality, equity, sustainability and collective prosperity envisaged by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. First, we need to strengthen the funding of the existing global health organisations.

Second, we must develop more resilient access to finance to build back better, and for future preparedness. Across the African continent, economies are still reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic and revenue has decreased by as much as $150bn. Governments have already spent scarce reserves fighting the pandemic and providing social protection to millions of affected households. Innovative financing must also address structural challenges beyond responding to immediate fiscal needs. If there was ever a time for an African Marshall Plan, it is now.

Third, we must reposition key multilateral organisations and international financial institutions such as the UN, the other Bretton Woods Institutions and the G20 to reflect inclusiveness and support investment in global public goods. The key to the G20’s effectiveness is its representation of the world’s population, enabling speed and flexibility in deliberation and decision-making. Admitting the African Union (AU) to an expanded G21 would have the same galvanising effect on the continent that the EU’s participation in the G20 had on Europe, strengthening policy coordination and coherence across the 54 African economies. With the AU at the table, 1.3bn more people and $2.3trn more output would be represented in the global community. This extraordinary increase in representation would add just one seat to the table and about 10 minutes to the discussion. Moreover, it would redefine global policy coordination to enable a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable world to emerge.

Fourth, we in Africa are as committed to the fight against climate change. We believe, however, that the fight will be better advanced if we are able to maintain the crucial balance between economic, political and environmental imperatives – positions that were articulated at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. This should form part of the new UN Global Compact. Lastly, now more than ever, we must defend our values, and we shall continue to defend democracy and constitutional rule, and uphold human rights. We shall work to strengthen the institutions that support democracy in our country and in the region.

This viewpoint was adapted from an address given at the 76th UN General Assembly held in September 2021.