African Bar Association honors President Akufo-Addo a citation accompanying the award described President Akufo-Addo as “a pan-Africanist, anti-corruption crusader, a rare democratic leader in the field of good governance, a true African Statesman whose legacies present African leaders must emulate, and we are minded to say will stand the test of time”.
The President of the association, Hannibal Egbe Uwaifo, conferred the honor on President Akufo-Addo at the 2023 Annual Conference of the African Bar Association in Pretoria, South Africa.
Receiving the award, President Akufo-Addo commended the association for the award, stating that the legal profession had a rarefied position in African societies, and lawyers were assured of a special status.
He said as lawyers, it was a source of pride that they were at the forefront of the fight for liberation from colonialism and that since independence, lawyers had moved seamlessly between politics and the legal profession.
“We must be defined by what we see in ourselves, and not what others choose to say about us.
However, this cannot happen if we do not trade amongst ourselves.
Africa accounts for only three percent of global trade, and intra-African trade is one of the lowest of any region globally,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said this was largely due to the “colonial” economic model characterized by small individual economies, fragmented and disconnected regional markets, over-reliance on the production and export of primary commodities, and the presence of low productive capacities, which had been in existence for the last century.
He said the emergence of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represented a historic opportunity for Africa to strengthen intra-African trade as a powerful avenue for developing Africa’s vast economic and material potential.
“As the adage goes, there is strength in unity, and, for all 54 member states of the African Union, our strength lies with our numbers.
Cumulatively, we have a population of 1.3 billion, the majority of whom are young people, and we are in possession of a collective gross domestic product (GDP) of $3 trillion, making us, collectively, the eighth largest economy in the world,” he stressed.
That, he explained, positioned Africa as potentially an attractive investment destination, adding that “with the relevant investment, we will be able to sustain economic growth and create the job opportunities that the youth of our continent so desperately need”.
President Akufo-Addo described the AfCFTA as a major game-changer, and “once fully realized, we can increase intra-African trade by $35 billion, and reduce external imports by $10 billion yearly”.
He said that meant more opportunities for growth for small businesses and the potential to lift some 30 million people out of extreme poverty, and that a successful AfCFTA would mean that Africa’s industrial exports would be diversified, moving it away from undue reliance on extractive commodities and foreign imports.
These benefits to be sought from the AfCFTA, he said, could, however, not be reaped in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.