Ghanaian President Refers to Ireland During Address on Youth

Last Thursday, 30th November, the President of Ghana hosted the President of France. 



French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo. Image courtesy of

In an unscripted address last Thursday following a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo made reference to the past waves of immigration from Ireland to the US and the need for the African continent to provide opportunities for the African youth of today.

“Migration and the movement of people is being presented in a manner which suggests it is a new phenomenon. There is nothing new about it. The movement of people is as old as man. It has also been linked to the same thing: the failure of where you are to provide you with an opportunity so you move elsewhere. Those of you who are familiar with 19th century European history would know that the biggest wave of migration in latter part of the 19th century Europe was from Ireland and Italy. Waves upon waves and generations of Irish and Italian people left their country to seek the American paradise largely because Ireland was not working, Italy was not working."

President Akufo-Addo noted that ‘today we don’t hear of it’ and that young people in both Ireland and Italy no longer travel in such large numbers to seek new opportunities.

To sustained applause, the Ghanaian premier stated: ‘we want young Africans to stay in Africa’.

He went on to address what he views as the ‘dependence mindset’ that exists in some areas and the need to move away from the ‘cap-in-hand mentality’.

“The African continent when you look at its resources should be giving money to other places. We have a huge amount of wealth.  We need to have a mindset of that says we can do it, others have done it.

“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, our continent on the basis of whatever support, the western world, France, the European Union can give us. It has not worked and it will not work. Our responsibility is to charter a new path which is about how we can develop our nations ourselves. It is not right for a country like Ghana to still have its education and health budgets funded by European tax payers. By now, we should be able to finance our basic needs ourselves. If we are going to look at the next 60 years as a period of transition, a period whereby we can stand on our own  feet, our perspective ought not to be what the French tax payer decide to do with whatever surplus they may have.  They [the financial support from abroad] are welcome...but this still the today the repository of at least 30% of the most important minerals of the world. It has vast, arable lands and the continent has the youngest population of any continent in the world.”

He also made reference to Korea, Malaysia and SIngapore who all achieved independence at the same time as Ghana.

We are told that at the time [of independence] that Ghanaian per capita income was higher than Korea. Korea is now in the ‘first world’. What happened?”

President Akafo-Addo concluded by referring to the ‘ingenuity’ of those who cross the Sahara desert in search of a better life in Europe.

We want those energies working inside these countries. We need to build systems that tell young people that their hopes and their opportunities are here with us.”

The meeting of the two heads of State took place following conclusion of the biennial African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on 29thNovember. The AU-EU gathering focused on the response to the ongoing migration crisis and economic opportunities for young people.