Young Africans on social media have been heaping praise on Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo for his response to a question at a joint press conference in Accra with the visiting French president Emmanuel Macron.
It started when a local journalist asked whether France was going to strengthen its “support” for other African countries aside its former colonies where the majority of French aid is spent. After jokingly tossing the question between each other, Macron replied with fairly standard mundane rhetoric.
But when it was time for president Akufo-Addo to speak, knowing fully what he was about to say was controversial, he began by saying: “I hope that the comments I am about to make will not offend the questioner too much and some people around here”,the latter part widely interpreted as directed to his much younger counterpart.
He made the visiting president to understand that the need for their support was not needed, infact, his country, Ghana want to work out something themselves so as to learn how to keep themselves going even during the toughest times without seeking for help from any international body.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work”, he stressed.
A visibly uncomfortable Macron fidgeted, appearing unsure which side of the room to turn his gaze as his African counterpart stopped short, saying while aid is appreciated, he wouldn’t be propositioning it.
“We have to get away from this mindset of dependency. This mindset about ‘what can France do for us?’ France will do whatever it wants to do for its own sake, and when those coincide with ours, ‘tant mieux’ [so much better] as the French people say…Our concern should be what do we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cap in hand and begging for aid, for charity, for handouts.
The African continent when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves,” his rising tone and demeanor demonstrating his passion for this subject.
While Macron might have been caught off-guard by the frankness of president Akufo-Addo’s response it was in fact in line with some of his own blunt comments while speaking about Africa’s future, while visiting neighboring Burkina Faso, a couple days earlier.
Sub-Saharan African countries are the recipients of 25% of global official development assistance, according to the OECD.
Videos of the answer have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of times already and shared by many social media users across the continent. One user describing it as “probably the most powerful message in recent times coming from an African leader.”