President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on African leaders to create opportunities that would make their countries attractive to their citizens in order to reap the dividends of the continent’s human capital.
He emphasized that countries of Africa must create conditions conducive for economic growth and prosperity to curtail the mass migration out of Africa to Europe and the Americas, where Africans only enjoy second class status.
“We, the political leaders of our countries, carry the responsibility to help take Africa out of poverty, to help grow our economies, and to help bring prosperity,” he said when Speaking at the opening of the 19th plenary assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Accra on Tuesday.
The six-day plenary assembly which has drawn some 130 participants including cardinals, Bishops, representatives of Church institutions from Africa, the Vatican, Europe and the Americas, is being held under the theme “Ownership of SECAM: Security and migration in Africa and its Islands.”
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that security and migration in Africa are at the very heart of problems that beset the continent.
He said the first responsibility that the state owed to its people was to establish its security and stability.
“Everything else grows out of a secure and stable state. Some 60 odd years since most African countries gained their independence, the African peoples have a right to expect to live in secure and stable countries.
“After the great promise and excitement of the early years of independence, political freedom, unfortunately, did not deliver the economic prosperity we hoped for, instead, our continent was plagued with political instability, manifested mostly by military coups and widespread poverty,” he said.
The President noted that the absence of security and stability had led to Africa’s youth losing confidence they could build successful futures in their home countries, and “migration to Europe and America became the main aspiration of African youth.”
“I doubt there will ever be a more depressing phenomenon than our young people thinking of and embarking on the perilous journey across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe.”
President Akufo-Addo pointed that until African nations created the atmosphere that would engender hope, incidents like the recent killing and brutalization of hundreds of young people who tried to force their way into the European enclave of Melilla where Europe has a land border with Africa, would “simply be added to the long list of incidents in which young Africans are humiliated and lose their lives in their attempt to reach Europe.”
He said though migration had positive aspects, including the infusion of skills and new energy in the countries of destination, the reality was that “if the country from which you start your journey of migration is prospering, you will be treated with respect wherever you go.”
“But, if our young people subject themselves to the intolerable and inhumane conditions of crossing the Sahara and drowning in the Mediterranean, in the hope of making a living in Europe, there is no chance of their being treated with respect when they do make it to Europe, nor can those of us left behind ever hope to be treated with respect by the rest of the world.”
Thus, the President charged his opposites in Africa to carry the responsibility to help take the continent out of poverty, and to “help grow our economies, and to help bring prosperity.”
“We have the responsibility to make our countries attractive to the citizens, and for the young people to have reason to believe they have a future here, and not risk their lives trying to get into parts of the world where they and their generations remain second class citizens.
“We cannot build this happy and prosperous society we aspire to unless we lead rounded lives. It means we must give equal attention to the training of the Head, the Heart and the Hand… The Head alone will not take us to the promised land, nor will the Hand alone take us, we need a citizenry that pays equal attention to the Head, the Hand and the Heart to be able to build a successful society,” he added.