Economic integration surest way to guarantee Africa’s peace and prosperity, says Gabby Otchere-Darko

Otchere-Darko said political leaders must prioritise the integration agenda by first implementing an Africa without borders

The executive chairman of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN) and senior partner of Africa Legal Associates (ALA), Gabby Otchere-Darko, has declared that the economic integration of Africa is the surest pathway to guarantee the continent’s peace, security and prosperity for all her peoples.

Otchere-Darko was delivering his welcome address at the maiden edition of the Global Africa Forum (GAF), jointly organised by APN and the Africa-America Institute (AAI) on Thursday 21 September 2023 on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York City.

The theme for the GAF was “Mobilising Global Africa Investment to Boost Intra-African Trade”.

Otchere-Darko said political and business leaders must prioritise the integration agenda of the continent. The best way to achieve this integration, in his view, is to have the mindset of an Africa without borders. The concept of global Africa, he said, will be much more meaningful and will find full expression if the continent rids herself of the borders currently dividing her.

Guests at the launch of the Global Africa Forum (GAF) in New York on 21 September 2023 included the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta

He told the gathering that investors who are not Africans in any shape or form have invested in Africa and their investments have become profitable. The “global African”, Otchere-Darko said, must see the need also to invest in the continent with profitability as a target.

“Back in January 2021, we [Africans] gave birth to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which potentially means that we are creating the single largest economy in the world … If that is going to happen, then every man and woman of African descent should see the role that they can play in that,” Otchere-Darko said.

The Chinese, he said, have also caught the vision and are investing heavily in Ghana and other parts of the African continent because they foresee that, sooner rather than later, Africans will stop travelling to China to purchase products manufactured there. So, Otchere-Darko said, they see the need to build their factories right on the continent.

America is doing very little in this regard in Africa, Otchere-Darko observed. However, he argued that it is time for the African American, the global African, to wake up to reality and believe in the continent as a viable place to invest their capital.

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko addresses guests at the launch of the Global Africa Forum (GAF) in New York (21 September 2023)

APD 2024 launched

During the ceremony, APN launched the second edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), which will take place in Ghana from Thursday 25 to Saturday 27 January 2024 under the theme: “Delivering Prosperity in Africa By Producing What We Trade”.

Launching the APD, the executive chairman of APN, Gabby Otchere-Darko, said that as 21 September is the birthday of Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, it was appropriate for him to re-engage with the task of promoting African integration with a quotation from remarks by the former president six decades ago, when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was created.

“The resources are there; it is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted effort, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mode of our people.

“The symptoms of our troubles will grow, and the troubles themselves become chronic. It will then be too late for pan-African unity to secure for us stability and tranquillity with our neighbours for a continent of social justice and material well-being,” said Otchere-Darko, quoting the late Kwame Nkrumah.

Among guests at the launch of the Global Africa Forum (GAF) in New York on 21 September 2023 was the executive secretary of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Yofi Grant (in blue suit)

Necessary actions

For his part, Kofi Appenteng, the president and chief executive officer of the Africa-America Institute (AAI), observed that there are three areas in which governments on the African continent need to take action in order to create an enabling environment to attract funds from diaspora networks.

The first, he said, is ease of travel and the challenges that exist with getting visas to travel to the African continent at short notice. As the AAI president said, “if you [Africa] want to create an enabling environment for investments, people need to be able to travel easily.

“This is something that is within the power of African countries to do something about and it is in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area. We are not going to have the opportunity to create this market if travel continues to be difficult,” Appenteng said.

“[An]other is, for those who do not have citizenship of any African country, there needs to be the ability for a pathway for residency and also citizenship. Because if you are really going to make long-term investments, you are going to really need to know that if you go and sit, watch your money and make partnership, etc, that you can do so [safely and freely].

“This is something that again is in the control of African governments,” Appenteng added.

Appentengs final concern was to do with the real estate sector and the ability to buy real estate or accommodation.

In attendance

Apart from President Akufo-Addo, other dignitaries who attended the forum included Professor Benedict Oramah, the president and chairman of the board of directors of Afreximbank, and the secretary general of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, based at the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, His Excellency Wamkele Mene.

Also present were Dr Amany Asfour, the president of the Africa Business Council; Ahunna Eziakonwa, assistant secretary general, UNDP-RBA; Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and Julius Mwale, president and chief executive officer of SBA Technologies Inc.

Joining them were several other leading business figures from across global Africa.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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