Watching a President’s travel itinerary
By Richard Mammah
Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo Addo is at the moment undertaking what is very clearly, a pan-African shuttle.
As we write this, the leader of the former Gold Coast is leaving Accra for Niger as part of what is clearly a continuing tour of West African countries.
In the course of this particular trip, Akufo Addo will of course hold the traditional bilateral talks with his Nigerien counterpart, Mahamadou Issoufou. He is equally expected to hold a session with the Ghanaian community there.
What is notable about these travels are the facts of their intensity and the dogged passion with which the President is going about them. Only last week, Akufo Addo was in Liberia and Mali. Before then, the 72-year old former Foreign Minister had made trips to Senegal, Guinea, Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire.
Policy watchers say that the trips are clearly aimed at deepening Ghana’s bilateral relations with its neighbours. But others are hinting that it may even go deeper than that: that Ghana may be trying to return to connect with its roots, when under its first Prime Minister, Osagyefo, Kwame Nkrumah, it literally led the cause of African integration. And then there is also talk of expanding the possibilities for Ghanaian business within the sub-region.
Indeed, this would be the rub as it will begin to give practical teeth to the issue of intra-African trade enhancement. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, at 2015, the top export destinations of Ghana are ‘India ($3.21B), Switzerland ($1.39B), China ($1.06B), the Netherlands ($669M) and France ($607M). The top import origins are China ($5.31B), the Netherlands ($884M), the United States ($848M), India ($641M) and France ($515M).’ Simply put, Africa is not on the radar of the nation whose pioneering leader rightly asserted some six decades ago, that political independence without its economic equivalent was not going to do the mother continent much good!
At the moment though, a pattern of sorts is developing for the trips. Like is projected to be the case in Niger, in Senegal, Akuffo Addo held talks with the President, Macky Sall as well as with the Ghanaian diaspora in that country. He is also known to at every stop, reiterate his administration’s full commitment to the ideals of ECOWAS.
Fair enough, but then, can he give us some ‘more juice?’
President Akufo Addo of Ghana