BRUSSELS, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana says his government’s priority is to build the most business-friendly and people-friendly economy in Africa to create jobs and prosperity for all Ghanaians.

Addressing the opening of the 2017 European Development Days Conference here Wednesday, he stressed that the push by his government would be achieved through harnessing the potential of and by the introduction of measures which would empower the private sector.

Speaking on the theme, Making Gender and the Youth the Private Sector’s business, President Akufo-Addo added that since he assumed office early this year, we have introduced measures to stimulate the private sector, through the introduction of a monetary policy that will stabilise the currency and reduce significantly the cost of borrowing, in addition to a raft of tax cuts to bring relief to and encourage businesses.

These interventions, he indicated, will shift the focus of Ghana’s economy from taxation to production, and, hopefully, will make Ghanaian businesses very competitive in West Africa, Africa and beyond.

It is the competitiveness of our enterprises, in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, that will determine our capacity to create wealth for our youth and women, and wealth in our society. The competitiveness of Ghana’s private sector is key to addressing issues of inclusion, economic development and growth of Ghana, the President said.

That is the only way we can build a Ghana Beyond Aid, that is, freeing our people from a mindset of dependence, aid, charity and handouts, and building a self-reliant economy which will mobilise the immense resources of Ghana, material and human, with women and youth in the forefront, to resolve Ghana’s problems.

President Akufo-Addo said the government had instituted measures to keep Ghana’s youth in touch with global trends, and also equip them with the skills, which, together with their sense of enterprise and innovation, would be necessary in Ghana’s economic transformation.

Referring to the United Nations Sustainable developmenty Goals (SDGs) relating to the empowerment of women and the youth, he said that with 51 per cent of Ghana’s population being female, and also with about 73 per cent of the population being below the age of 35, empowerment of our women and youth constitute fundamental challenges for our development.

To this end, the President reiterated that the empowerment of women and the youth is the surest way of rooting out poverty, and guaranteeing the progress and prosperity of our country and continent. This so-called youth bulge provides immense opportunities for rapid economic development.

Ghana’s economy, like most of the economies of Africa, he said, had remained structurally rigid since colonialism, depending largely on the exports of primary commodities such as, in the case of Ghana, gold, cocoa, bauxite and timber.

There can be no future prosperity in the short, medium or long term, if we continue to maintain this economic structure. Unless we industrialise, with the goal of adding significant value to our primary products, we cannot create the necessary numbers of high-paying jobs that will enhance the living standards of the masses of our country, our women and youth, the President added.