Post-COVID-recovery: Akufo-Addo visits France, Belgium, South Africa

During his nine-day visit, Akufo-Addo is expected to market Ghana in meetings with EU leaders and high-profile players in European business

The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is embarking on a nine-day official visit to France, Belgium and South Africa.

Akufo-Addo is scheduled to leave Ghana on Sunday 16 May 2021.

The working visits are among efforts the president is making to re-engage with the rest of the world after the onset of the pandemic. They will highlight Ghana, once again, as a country with an impressively business-friendly atmosphere, with bright economic prospects.

President Akufo-Addo will attend a summit on financing African economies, which is being convened by President Emmanuel Macron of France on 18 May in Paris.

The summit, which will bring together African and European leaders, as well as heads of international financial institutions, will devise strategies to boost strong and inclusive recovery in Africa, grounded in a dynamic private sector. The aim is to foster sustainable progress and prosperity, and to accelerate the green and digital transitions, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Rising inequality

Amid all the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on economies across the world, Africa has been hardest hit. After sinking into recession last year, the continent’s estimated recovery growth rate of 3.7% for 2021 is well below the global recovery rate of 5.5%.

This, say economic and financial experts, could make problems of poverty and inequality for many Africans even worse.

It is expected that a financial package will be devised to enable African countries to overcome the economic impact of the COVID crisis.

Participants will agree on critical pro-growth reforms which are needed to enhance the private sector in Africa and tap its growth potential. The plans will have financial support from the African and international capital markets.

The remedial packages will include risk-sharing instruments dedicated to African entrepreneurs and small/medium-sized enterprises, as well as appropriate technical assistance. It is hoped that the summit will further agree on critical common rules and enforcement mechanisms which will contribute towards securing strong and sustainable growth in Africa.

Bilateral talks

While in Paris, President Akufo-Addo will hold discussions with the president of the World Bank, David Malpass, and the managing director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, both of whom will be attending the summit.

From Wednesday 19 May, at the invitation of the president of the European Council, His Excellency Charles Michel, President Akufo-Addo will be in Brussels to hold bilateral talks with the president and officials of the European Council, and meet with stakeholders committed to the partnership between Ghana and the European Union.

The talks between President Akufo-Addo and Mr Michel are expected to centre on regional security, as well as on sustainability challenges in Ghana’s cocoa and fisheries sectors, and their impact on relations between Ghana and the European Union.

The president will later meet with Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank, and take part in a signing ceremony for a €160 million facility between the EIB and the Ministry of Finance which will go towards establishing the National Development Bank.

He will also attend an investor conference in Brussels on Ghana, and also meet Jutta Urpilainen, the EU Commissioner on International Co-operation, to discuss matters relating to the COVAX facility, which is currently supplying COVID-19 vaccines to Ghana.

Levers for rebuilding

On the last leg of his tour, which will take him to South Africa, President Akufo-Addo will address the fourth ordinary session of the fifth parliament of the Pan-African Parliament at the invitation of the PAP Speaker.

The appearance before the House is scheduled to take place on Monday 24 May in Johannesburg.

Deliberations will be guided by the African Union theme for 2021: “Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.

President Akufo-Addo will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Finance, and officials from the Office of the President as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance.

He will be joined for the Belgian section of his tour by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, and the chief executive officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

The president is expected to return to Ghana on Tuesday 25 May.

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