That, he explained, would make them see the continent as a place of opportunities.
He bemoaned the fact that African youth “brave the Sahara Desert on foot, and those who survive the ravages of the desert risk being sold on slave markets in Libya or risk journeys across the Mediterranean Sea on rickety boats, all in the forlorn hope of a better life in Europe, in countries and among people where they are obviously not welcome”.
Delivering the keynote address at a conference on transformative governance in Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo noted that it was “our youth who bear the brunt of the suffering who now resort to desperate measures to get out”.
The event was organised by the Kukah Centre, a think-tank in Abuja, Nigeria.
“We must provide education, education and education. It means our young people must acquire the skills that run modern economies… When they are skilled, they would not have to risk drowning in the Mediterranean Sea; they would be head hunted and treated with dignity,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo added that there was enough money in Africa to pay for the education and training young people on the continent and make them ready to face the world of the 21st century.
He referred to a report of the panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki on the illicit flow of funds (IFFs) from Africa which revealed that Africa was losing more than $50 billion through illicit financial outflows annually.
The report, he said, added that between the year 2000 and 2008, $252 billion, representing 56.2 per cent, of IFFs from the continent was from extractive industries, including mining.
President Akufo-Addo with the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Yakubu Gowon
The President told the gathering that the purpose for the launch of the free SHS policy in Ghana in September 2017 was to ensure that all Ghanaian children attained a minimum of senior high school education.
That, he explained, was the only way Ghana could create an educated workforce to accelerate development.
“I hesitate to prescribe policy initiatives for other countries, but on the matter of education, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending that all African countries adopt the policy of free compulsory education from kindergarten to senior high school. This is one of the most important things we have to do if we are to make the transformation from our current state of poverty to prosperity,” President Akufo-Addo noted.
He emphasised that no other country or individual was going to sort out matters for Africa, except Africans themselves.
“We must match those who come to do business with us in all the skills they possess. We must have our own set of bright and sharp lawyers, our own set of bright and sharp accountants to keep us abreast of the sharp and bright lawyers and accountants that our trade partners have,” he added.
In addition to the provision of education, the President indicated that the time was long overdue for Africa to take a deep look at the structures of its economies which had, over the years, been dependent on the production and export of raw materials.
“The era of Africa’s industrialisation has dawned, so that we can also trade in the world economy, not on the basis of the export of raw materials but on the basis of things we make,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade were located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade.
With trade among African regions remaining low, compared with other parts of the world, he noted, the time for African integration should be now.