FULL TEXT: 2024 State of the Nation’s Address by Akufo Addo




It is always exhilarating to be back in Parliament, and to discharge theduty, in fulfillment of Article 67 of the Constitution, of delivering to theHouse a Message on the State of the Nation on this occasion for thepenultimate time.In accordance with protocol and convention, it is good to see that FirstLady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, SecondLady Samira Bawumia, Spouse of Mr. Speaker, Alice Adjua Yornas, ChiefJustice Gertrude Torkornoo, and Justices of the Supreme Court,Chairperson Nana Otuo Siriboe II, and Members of the Council of State,the new Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Thomas Oppong-Peprah, the Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, andService Chiefs, are all present, as are the Dean and Members of theDiplomatic Corps.Mr. Speaker, the House is duly honoured by the welcome attendance ofthe former President of the Republic, His Excellency John DramaniMahama, and former First Lady, Her Excellency Nana Konadu AgyemangRawlings.Mr Speaker, I am glad to be able to report that the entire territory thatmakes up our nation is safe, secure and under the control of thegovernment and people of Ghana.This might sound like a pedestrian statement with which to start aMessage on the State of the Nation. Unfortunately, far from it being aneveryday truism, this is no longer a statement or claim that can be easilymade in these times in the neighbourhood in which we are. West Africais under threat of terrorism and violent extremism, rapidly spreadingsouthwards from the Sahel to coastal West Africa.We can no longer take the territorial integrity of our countries for granted.Indeed, many of our neighbours have already fallen victim, and lost largeportions of their territories to extremist groups, and Ghana, by the grace


of the Almighty, is the only coastal state along the Gulf of Guinea that hasso far not recorded a terrorist attack.Mr Speaker, the peace and security we have in our country has nothappened by chance. It has taken deliberate policy and planning on thepart of Government, and a lot of hard work and dedication on the part ofour security services to keep our country safe and secure.I might add that it has also meant we have had to spend a lot of moneythat would otherwise have been available to spend on many of ourdevelopment needs. But I believe we are all agreed that the primaryresponsibility of the state towards its citizens is to provide and guaranteepeace and security, and we are doing just that.Since we came into office, we have ensured a significant expansion of the Armed Forces and all the other security agencies. We are paying diligentattention to their welfare as well. The accommodation and physicalenvironment generally of the security agencies are being improved. Wehave quickened the pace of the retooling and equipping of the securityagencies to ensure readiness towards the emerging security threats.For the majority of us and our everyday activities, it is the security of ourstreets and homes and communities that concern us most. We want ourchildren and grandchildren to grow up in a safe atmosphere, and theGhana Police Service play the lead role in this. Again, Government hasperformed most creditably. They are much better equipped than theyhave ever been, and their increased visibility on the streets goes a longway to reassure the community. The changing image of the Police is,perhaps, best exemplified by the dramatic facelift they have given to thefrontage of the Police Headquarters on the Ring Road in Accra. It isbeautiful, and I recommend it to all institutions and, indeed, households.Whilst we are spending money, time, energy and lives keeping the countrysafe from external dangers, I must add that it is a matter of great concernthat we continue to have so many chieftaincy and land disputes aroundthe country, which tend to be breeding grounds for internal tensions anddestabilisation.Mr Speaker, I must make special mention of the troubles in Bawku. Thetragedy is not only that a thriving and dynamic town is being reduced toa wasteland of destruction and distrust, we are spending money and


energy that would have been better spent on development needs ofBawku, providing security to keep brothers and sisters from killing eachother.Mr Speaker, what should concern all of us and not just the people ofBawku is that, in its current state, Bawku is an alluring magnet to mischiefmakers and extremists operating a few kilometres across from the border.In the bid to find a lasting solution to the conflict, Government has, in thepast year, undertaken a number of measures, including the establishmentof a special Bawku Taskforce, and the intensification of engagements withthe factions for the resolution of the chieftaincy dispute. On therecommendation of the Upper East Regional and National SecurityCouncils, four (4) radio stations, that have been broadcasting incendiarylanguage and propagating hate speech, have been shut down by theNational Communications Authority. The Chief Justice has also recentlyestablished specialised Courts in Accra and in Kumasi to deal expeditiouslywith criminal matters emanating from the Bawku conflict.Government is determined to do all it can to ensure there is security inevery inch of the territory of our country, but it also is very much up tothe citizens to help create the needed atmosphere, and I am, thus,appealing to all citizens to take the

See Something, Say Something

campaign of the Ministry of National Security very seriously.There is, indeed, Mr Speaker, a state of palpable anxiety and tension inevery corner of West Africa, raising the spectre of regional instability,which we thought had been banished. Unconstitutional changes inGovernment in parts of Africa, especially in West Africa, through a seriesof coup d’états and military interventions in governance, testify to anunfortunate democratic regression in the Region. It is in the interest ofdemocratic growth that this development is reversed as soon as possible,and we, in Ghana, continue to give maximum support to ECOWAS, theregional body of West Africa, and the African Union, Africa’s continentalorganisation, in their efforts to restore democratic institutions in theaffected nations. We must help stem the tide of this unwelcome evolution,and help entrench democracy in West Africa. We believe also that areform of the global governance architecture, such as the Security Councilof the United Nations, to make it more representative and accountable,will help strengthen global peace and stability, and, thereby, helpconsolidate democratic rule in the world.


Mr Speaker, we in Ghana have had our fair share of political instabilityand experimentation about how we should govern ourselves. There mightbe new names being ascribed to some of the supposed new ideas beingcanvassed by some today, but I daresay, on close examination, we woulddiscover they are not new, we have tried them here, and they have failed.We know about all-powerful, cannot-be-questioned Messiahs, we knowabout liberators, and we know about redeemers and deities in militaryuniform.It might sound new to some, but those of us who have been around fora while have heard the argument made passionately that democracy wasnot a suitable form of Government if we wanted rapid development. It isa tired argument that was regularly used by coup d’etat apologists.It is also not new to have political parties and politics, in general, beingdenigrated, indeed, there used to be national campaigns of fear wagedagainst politics and political parties.It took time and it took long battles, but, in the end, a consensus didemerge, and we opted for a multi-party democratic form of Governmentunder the Constitution, which ushered in the Fourth Republic.Mr Speaker, it is not a perfect document, Constitutions do not everpretend to be; but it has served us well these past thirty-two (32) years,considering where we have come from. It is a sacred document thatshould not be tampered with lightly, but, I hasten to add, our Constitutiondid not descend from heaven, we, Ghanaians, drew it up to serve ourneeds, and we can amend it to suit our changing needs andcircumstances. We should work towards finding a consensus on thechanges that the majority of Ghanaians want made to the Constitution.Mr Speaker, democracies are founded on elections, and the holding offree and credible elections ensure that people have confidence in thegovernment that emerges at the end of the process.The Honourable Members of this House, who are at the centre of it all,know more than the rest of us that this is an election year. The increaseddecibel level in all communications would ensure that even the mostpolitically uninterested person among us would know that, on December7, we shall be going to the polls to elect a new President and Members ofParliament.


 A lot of the responsibility lies on the Electoral Commission to put theorganisation in place that would ensure that we have credible elections.Government is doing its part to make the work of the ElectoralCommission go smoothly. A lot of responsibility lies on the political parties as well, and I hope thatthe parties recognise that their credibility is also on the line, with somepeople wanting to undermine the multi-party democratic system ofgovernment. It is up to the parties to demonstrate that competitiveelections are an honourable, character enhancing experience, and, at theend of the process, the loser will congratulate the winner, and the worlddoes not come to an end because an election has been lost.There is nothing inherently dirty or corrupt about politics, and nothingabout elections that should generate violence. We, who are in politics andwe who are members of political parties, owe it to ourselves, theinstitutions we claim to belong to, and, above all, we owe it to Ghana andthe people of Ghana to make politics and elections the serious and joyfulphenomenon they should be.In discharging their responsibility, I urge the Electoral Commission to workwith the political parties to iron out whatever problems there might be,and I am happy that the Electoral Commission, after engaging the parties,has shelved plans to change the 7


 December date. Politics, after all, hasbeen described as the art of the possible, and, if that is what we areengaged in, it should not be beyond us to resolve the problems that comeup, and concentrate on working to build the happy and prosperouscountry we want.Government, on its part, will do what is expected of it to make sure thatthe reputation of Ghana is not damaged, and the free will of the peopleis manifested at the end of the electoral process; and I want to reassurethe people of Ghana that I will do everything in my power to help ensurethe conduct of transparent, free and fair elections on 7


 December.I have confidence in the security services to ensure that those who mightwant to cause havoc or any kind of mischief to disrupt the electoralprocess will have no room to operate.Mr Speaker, there are those amongst us who, for ideological or otherunstated reasons, have never accepted multi-party democracy, and,


therefore, take every opportunity to portray the governance efforts in themost disparaging manner.There are also those amongst us who consider the rough and tumble ofpolitics to be beneath them, and would not want their sainted images tobe soiled by what they term the dirt of politics. Mr Speaker, we can andwe should continuously improve upon the performance of the institutionsthat hold the state together, but nobody should undermine the integrityof the arms of government for parochial reasons. There is definitely muchroom for improvement in the workings of the Executive arm ofGovernment, the Judiciary and our Parliament.Even those who have had Parliaments as part of their governance systemsfor hundreds of years still make mistakes, and, sometimes, get thingsalarmingly wrong. It would be surprising if our thirty-one (31) year oldParliament did not get things wrong sometimes.This august House, which holds so many fond memories for me of mypersonal political journey, does not always measure up to the expectationsof the people or, even sometimes, of its own members.There is a lot of anxiety currently about how our MPs get elected, thereis anxiety about the rapid turnover of Members in the House, and the lossof institutional memory. There is a lot of anxiety about some of theprocedures in the House. We would not all agree with everything thatParliament does and, I daresay, Mr Speaker, that I do not agree witheverything that goes on in here, but that is the beauty of what we, as apeople, are trying to do in our governance structure.Mr Speaker, the president and his appointees are not universally loved,and it will be strange and unproductive if they were. It is probablyworthwhile making what I consider to be important observations at thisstage on some of the issues in our public discourse, in the lead up to theelections for a new President.Under the Constitution, the executive power of the state is vested in thePresident of the Republic. He or she is the Executive.There is no ambiguity about where the buck stops, when it comes toresponsibility for what happens in the government. It stops with thePresident, he or she has ultimate responsibility. It would be an unwise


President that would pretend to have all the answers, and refuse theadvice of his officials, but the fact remains that the President holds theexecutive power.The Cabinet, the Ministers of State all act in an advisory manner. Ofcourse, a member of the government might take an idea, be it generatedby the President or the official or a committee, and turn it into a hugesuccess, and the honours would be claimed or shared where publicperception falls. But, ultimately, the President is responsible, and,therefore, takes the credit or the blame for whatever happens in his orher government.Let me make a second point. The programmes that come from theExecutive benefit from the rigorous public examination and debates towhich they are subjected.We all now take for granted and, sometimes, even bemoan the vigorousmedia and civil society organisation scrutiny that characterise publicdiscourse.It gives me quiet satisfaction and great pride to hear young Ghanaians,today, who believe that criticising the President of the Republic andchallenging government proposals are normal, regular activities. Some ofthe young people listen with incredulity when they hear about a Ghanathat was once without private radio stations, and people had to tune in toforeign stations to hear critical and opposition voices. Today, there aresome five hundred and fifty (550) radio stations in operation in thecountry.In spite of all its shortcomings and difficulties, the people of Ghana haveshown admirable commitment to multi-party democracy, and have notfallen for the instigations to resort to the violent overthrow of an electedgovernment.The past thirty-two (32) years of the Fourth Republic have witnessed themost sustained period of stability and economic growth in our country,and we should be proud of what we have achieved, and seek to protectand build on it, and that is why the theme for the sixty-seventh (67


)independence anniversary celebration, on 6


 March, is

 “OurDemocracy, Our Pride” 



Mr Speaker, I am pleased to report on the progress we are making in theadministration of justice. This past year, a total of seventy-six (76) Judgesand Magistrates were appointed. They comprised a new Chief Justice, two(2) new Justices of the Supreme Court, twenty-three (23) new High CourtJudges, twenty-nine (29) new Circuit Court Judges, and twenty-one (21)new Magistrates. Two hundred and sixty-two (262) staff were recruitedto address some of the human resource gaps created because of thenewly established courts throughout the country. In January 2024, three(3) additional Justices have been appointed to the Supreme Court toreplace three (3) Justices who have retired from the Court.We have made unprecedented progress in the provision of court buildingsand residences for judges around the country. In 2020, Government setout to construct one hundred (100) courthouses with residential facilitiesnationwide. As at 31


 January 2024, sixty-seven (67) courthouses hadbeen successfully inaugurated, and are in use at various sites around thecountry. Twelve (12) completed projects have been slated forinauguration by the end of this month of February 2024. The remainingtwenty-one (21) projects are at various stages of completion, and areexpected to be completed and inaugurated before May 2024. In addition,one hundred and twenty-one (121) residential units have beenconstructed for judges throughout the country. Further, twenty (20) fullyfurnished 4-bedroom units, together with social amenities, have beenconstructed for Justices of the Court of Appeal in Kumasi.The project is not complete yet, but we have done enough to be able tosay that we have resolved the problem of the disgraceful state of courtbuildings. The attention now is to the digitalisation process of the courtsto modernise the entire system.The Judicial Service has undertaken a digitalisation initiative to moderniselegal operations, and foster greater access to justice. A virtual courtsystem was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure thecontinuity of business. The virtual court system was rolled out toseventeen (17) courts, and then, subsequently, to nineteen (19) HighCourts for the smooth hearing of court cases. By the end of December2023, one hundred and sixty (160) courts had been equipped with devicesfor the real-time transcription of cases, in addition to fifty-one (51) courtspiloting the paperless court system in Accra. The integration of real-timetranscription devices in one hundred and sixty (160) courts hasrevolutionised the way in which court proceedings are recorded and


documented. The service is rolling out a comprehensive digitalisation ofthe court system.The Attorney-General has continued, in a very effective manner, thetradition under this administration of contesting every civil litigationagainst the state, and has avoided the numerous judgement debts thatused to be given against the state. The Office, as a result, has saved thecountry over ten trillion Ghana cedis (GH¢10 trillion).I shall be performing a pleasant duty, in a few weeks’ time, when Icommission the Law House, the twelve (12)-storey office building, whichwill house the offices of the Attorney-General and his Ministry, and, finally,bring an end to the age-old office accommodation problem. I must declarea personal interest in it, as the building was started when I was Attorney-General in the Government of President John Agyekum Kufuor, back in2001.Mr Speaker, I acknowledge and share the frustration and deepdisappointment we all have that a convergence of events and fate haveconspired to place impediments on the path of the rapid developmenttrajectory we were on.I am proud that, in spite of the dramatic financial crisis that weencountered in 2021, whose worst effects became manifest in 2022, thetransformative measures we introduced in the first four years of officemake it possible to showcase an impressive array of developmentalprojects across the length and breadth of the country. I do not intend togo through the long, even if interesting process of enumerating theprojects the Akufo-Addo Government has undertaken since coming intooffice, their location and what stage of completion they are in.Mr Speaker, with the best will in the world, there simply will not be thetime to do that, even if we spent all day here.It will be recalled that last year, during the Message on the State of theNation, faced with a similar problem about road projects, I came to theHouse, armed with a fat book that had the details of the road projectsaround the country, and all Honourable Members were given copies to gothrough at their own leisure.


This year, we are taking things to a higher level. This Government, afterall, is the Digitalisation Government, and the man who has led the entiredigitalisation process these past seven (7) years, my indefatigable VicePresident, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Dr Digitalisation, the NPP’s excellentpresidential candidate for the 2024 election, is coming up with what willallow everyone and anyone to check on every project being undertakenby the government without having to listen to the President’s Message onthe State of the Nation. We are calling it the Performance Tracker. You can check and satisfy yourself about the status of the projects andtheir location, and you could stop by and make a physical inspection ifyou were so minded.Mr Speaker, if you want to check on roads, classroom blocks or CHIPcompounds or Agenda 111 hospitals, or bridges, or science laboratories,or water projects, or sanitation projects, or landing sites and harbours,and other infrastructural projects, or whatever this Government used yourtax money to execute, the key to your query is right there on your phone.Mr Speaker, the Performance Tracker will be formally launched in March,and I am offering it as the device which would help bring accountabilityinto your hands. With the Performance Tracker, we can be sure that neveragain will pictures of an artist’s impression be offered as projects thathave been executed.I am able to recommend the Performance Tracker in the sure knowledgethat the Akufo-Addo Government has done more in education in terms ofstudent enrolment, teacher training and employment, provision ofinfrastructure, than any government; we have similarly done more inhealth, agriculture, security, roads, railways, tourism, digitalisation thanany other Government. Thanks to the Performance Tracker, the Presidentno longer has to go through lists, and I have the confidence to say thatevery performance indicator used shows we have done more in theseseven (7) years than in any of the eight (8) years under the NDC.Indeed, Mr Speaker, on coming into office seven years ago, mygovernment took the decision, as we promised, to modernize andformalise the economy through digitalisation. In this regard, we haveembarked on one of the most far-reaching digitalisation exercises in Africa. Up from the figure of nine hundred thousand (900,000), which weinherited when we came into office in 2017, we have, thus far, enrolled17.6 million on the Ghanacard, and, therefore, provided unique biometric


identity to the majority of Ghanaians. We have also implemented a digitalproperty address system with unique addresses for all properties inGhana.Furthermore, through the implementation of mobile moneyinteroperability, we have also provided access to financial services foradult Ghanaians through mobile money accounts that are interoperablewith bank accounts. Ghana is now ranked number one in Africa in termsof access to financial inclusion. We have digitalised the provision of publicservices at the ports, DVLA, NHIS, GRA, Births and Deaths, Registrar ofCompanies, ECG, Ghana Water, amongst others. Ghana is ranked numberone in West Africa and number seven in Africa in e-Governance. We havealso implemented the use of drones in the delivery of medicines, bloodand vaccines, and Ghana currently runs the world’s largest medical dronedelivery service.We have also networked all teaching, regional and district hospitals andpatient records can easily be accessed in these hospitals without the needfor a folder. Ghana is making giant strides in the area of digitalisation,thereby improving transparency, accountability and efficiency in the publicsector, and accelerating the growth of our economy. We are definitelygoing to be part of the digital revolution that is sweeping the world.Mr Speaker, last year when I came to the House to deliver the annualMessage on the State of the Nation, we were in the midst of negotiationswith the International Monetary Fund.We were faced with a very difficult situation, and had to take a lot ofunpleasant, but unavoidable measures, to bring stability and confidenceback to the economy. These included tax measures that we did not like,but we knew we had to take in the knowledge that the medicine wouldbe bitter, but temporary.Mr. Speaker, a year ago, I also stated the decision to undertake acomprehensive debt restructuring of our domestic and external debt toensure we remain resolute in our objective to restore macroeconomicstability and sustainable growth.The decision was not an easy one, considering the complex and diversedomestic debt landscape. We had to consider safeguarding the financial


sector, preserving social and economic conditions, and protecting ourdomestic debt market. A year on, I am happy to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that we have madesignificant progress.We requested an unprecedented number of bondholders to participate ina voluntary exchange, and we were able to exchange successfully sometwo hundred and three billion cedis (GH¢203 billion) worth of bonds. Notonly was the exchange successful, but it helped us to secure, within five(5) months, the shortest possible time in recent debt restructuring history,a Staff Level Agreement to an Executive Board Agreement with the IMF.My gratitude goes to all financial sector players, organised labour, firms,regulatory institutions, and all individuals who made this painful exercisesuccessful.Mr. Speaker, as you may recall, Government successfully paid the firstcoupon of two-point-three billion cedis (GH¢2,369.67 million) on the newbonds on 22


 August 2023. At the time, that was the single biggestpayout of domestic payments in a single day for Ghana. We, then paidtwo billion and sixty million cedis (GH¢2,060.72 million) for the last leg ofthe domestic debt exchange on 5


 September 2023. A week ago, lastTuesday, on 20


 February 2024, the second coupon of five-point-eightbillion cedis (GH¢5,847.72 million) was paid to domestic bondholders. Thisis the largest coupon paid in a day in Ghana’s history.On the external debt side, we achieved a significant milestone by reachingan agreement with our public creditors, and I will use this occasion toexpress our appreciation to the Republic of France and the People’sRepublic of China, co-Chairs of the Official Creditors Committee, for theirpositive roles in this achievement. We have also intensified ourengagement with our external bondholders on the principles oftransparency, fair treatment, consistency with the IMF debt sustainabilityanalysis, and good faith. We are focused and committed to acceleratingthe process.Mr. Speaker, we are committed to concluding the external debtrestructuring process as soon as possible, so we move past the crisis. Thiswill enable us to complete substantially projects that have beenconstrained due to financial challenges. In the meantime, some of the


priority projects have been transferred onto the GOG budget within thesame fiscal space to ensure their completion.This will enable the Kumasi International Airport, which is some ninety-eight (98%) complete, to be completed by May. Other projects like theKomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Maternity Block in Kumasi, theTakoradi Interchange, the Obetsebi-Lamptey Interchange in Accra, theUniversity of Environment and Sustainable Development Project at Bunsoin the Eastern Region, phase two of the construction of roads in Tamale,and the construction of the eighty-four-kilometre (84km) railway linebetween Tema and Akosombo, would also be completed.Mr. Speaker, I am happy to announce that an alternative source offunding has also been secured for the reconstruction and completion ofLa Hospital Project, as a fully functional modern hospital, with thenecessary equipment for diagnosis and treatment. The contractor hasbeen paid an advance mobilisation of fifteen percent (15%), representingsome seven-point-five million dollars (US$7.5 million), and work is hasbegun. The project commenced, effectively, in January this year, and willbe completed in twenty-eight (28) months.Mr Speaker, it is important to underline that the recent change in theleadership of the Finance Ministry will not affect Government’scommitment to implementing the terms agreed with the IMF to ensurethat we restore the economy to healthy growth as soon as possible.Indeed, the macroeconomy was much stronger at the end of 2023 thanin 2022. Inflation, which peaked at 54.1% in December 2022 has reducedto 23.5% in January 2024. Real GDP Growth for the first three quartersof 2023 averaged 2.8 percent, higher than the targeted growth rate of1.5% for 2023. The cedi has been largely stable since February 2023, witha cumulative depreciation of nine percent (9%) between February andDecember 2023. Gross International Reserves reflected a significant build-up of at five-point-nine billion dollars (US$5.9 billion), enough to cover2.7 months of imports of goods and services. The current account turnedpositive at 1.4% of GDP at the end of September 2023, from negative-two-point-one percent (-2.1%) at the end of December 2022. Generally,the macroeconomic indicators are, once again, pointing in the rightdirection.


I should point out that, in all our discussions with the Fund, a paramountconsideration has been to ensure that the poor and vulnerable do not bearthe brunt of the sacrifices that have to be made. Programmes like LEAP,School Feeding and Capitation Grant have been protected, and, indeed,enhanced.Mr Speaker, right from the start of this Government coming into office,we have sought to place the maximum effort on the education andtraining of the youth as the base for building the prosperous nation weseek. A foreign statesman once posed the question: “Why am I the firstmember of my family in a thousand generations to have gone to theuniversity?”In the past seven years, I have met many people, young and old, acrossthis country, who have told me about the first person in their families andin their communities to have gone to Senior High School. They might wellask the question, why are they the first boy or girl in their family to havegone to Senior High school. The answer is not far-fetched. Not being ableto go to secondary school for lack of money was so widespread and anaccepted phenomenon that it led to some people thinking Senior HighSchool was not meant for them or their children or for people from theirvillage, and, therefore, a child in the family finishing Junior High Schooland moving on to Senior High School was simply not factored in theirexpectations.Mr Speaker, Free SHS might be labelled by its detractors as a merepolitical slogan that must be demonised, but it is, in fact, a transformativeprogramme that has broken myths and liberated minds. It is humbling onthe one hand and frightening on the other, to think of the sheer numberof talents that Free SHS has unearthed that would otherwise have endedtheir formal education at BECE.I know we will get more engineers, doctors, architects, scientists, writersand poets out of the increased numbers of those attending Senior HighSchool, who will go on to further education. Even if they stop at SeniorHigh School, imagine what a million more Secondary School educatedyoung people will do to our self-confidence and the value of ourworkforce. That, alone, makes Free SHS worthwhile.I am proud that the NPP government, under my leadership, has been ableto bring this transformative policy into our education system.


Mr Speaker, I believe the success of the Free SHS has answered its critics,and the arguments about it should cease, and we should simplyconcentrate on finding ways to improve it. I am particularly glad that thefears about lowering of standards have been allayed. Refreshingly, wewitnessed, through the 2023 batch of Free SHS students, the bestWASSCE results in a decade.Mr Speaker, there is more to education than Free SHS, and Governmenthas been paying equal attention to all the other sectors. Kindergarten,Primary School and Junior High School must work together to give a solidfoundation, and strengthen the Free SHS policy.The implementation of various programmes such as Capitation Grant,Feeding Grants to Special Schools, BECE registration for pupils in publicJunior High Schools, amongst others, have significantly increased accessto education at the basic level.The focus of the comprehensive reforms within the sector has been toimprove learning outcomes and ensure every child that goes through oureducation system is equipped with literacy and numeracy skills by the timethey exit primary six (6). A National Standardized Test for numeracy andreading skills is now being conducted at primary four (4).Unfortunately, quite a number of children still manage to slip out of thenet, and miss going to school altogether or drop out at primary school.The Ministry of Education partnered with key development allies to launchan innovative financing programme called the Ghana EducationalOutcome Project (GEOP). The goal of GEOP is to provide educationalsupport to seventy-two thousand (72,000) out-of-school children, helpingthem access complementary education and transition into formal schools.I am happy to report that seventeen thousand, three hundred and forty(17,340) out-of-school children have been taken through the programmeand mainstreamed into formal schools in 2023. This programme hasworked so well it won the GOVTECH PRIZE award in February 2024, atthe World Government Summit held in Dubai.Government has remained committed to improving the teaching andlearning of STEM education at the pre-tertiary level. Key interventionshave included increasing our ability to produce STEM professionals, andalso meeting 21


 century skills. Accordingly, the curriculum has beenoverhauled to include STEM Career Pathways such as Aviation and


 Aerospace Science, Biomedical Science, Engineering, Computer Science,Manufacturing, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.Government has also increased its investment in infrastructure forScience, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education atthe pre-tertiary level. The construction of ten (10) STEM Schools and ten(10) STEM Centres has commenced across the country, with seven (7)STEM Model Schools having been operationalised.These schools have been equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories andclassrooms, dormitories, assembly halls, dining halls and conduciveenvironments to foster teaching and learning. The operationalized schoolshave a total enrolment of two thousand, four hundred (2,400) studentsreading General Science and STEM.Mr. Speaker, in recognizing the critical role of Technical and VocationalEducation and Training (TVET) in the country’s industrialization agenda,the government continued implementing key reforms in the TVET space,including the expansion of the Free Senior High School programme toinclude students in public TVET institutes.Mr Speaker, a lot of resources has gone into the provision of infrastructureat all levels of the education system. But a lot remains to be done. Manybasic schools require more adequate classrooms and furniture, and theenvironment in some of these schools can be made more suitable forlearning and teaching. Some of the Senior High Schools, especially thecommunity schools recently absorbed into the formal GES structure, lackthe facilities that the established schools take for granted. We must allexpress our gratitude to the teachers in such schools who manage, inspite of the difficulties, to bring out the best in their students andsometimes succeed in achieving great results. They exemplify the best inthe Ghanaian, and give us hope for the future. Indeed, the one-tablet-per-student policy at the Senior High School level is being rolled out, andwill formally be launched by me next month. It is a great tool to helpbridge the gap between disadvantaged and privileged students.Mr Speaker, Free SHS and our “No Guarantor” policy, under the StudentLoan Trust Fund, are breaking down financial barriers for students seekinghigher education. By eliminating the requirement for a guarantor, we haveempowered students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds topursue their educational aspirations without undue financial burden. This


has meant a substantial increase in the numbers of students seekingtertiary education, and it is in response to this increase that Governmenthas decided to establish four (4) new universities in Mampong in AshantiRegion, Akrodie in Bono Region, Bunso in Eastern Region and Kintampoin Bono East Region, and expand the facilities in existing ones. We arepursuing interventions towards achieving, by 2030, the forty percent(40%) Gross Tertiary Enrolment Ratio, up from the current level of18.84%, as well as the sixty-forty (60:40) science to humanities ratio,from the current one of forty to sixty (40:60), as captured in the EducationStrategic Plan of 2018 to 2030.Mr Speaker, between 2012 and early 2017, there was nothing moredemoralising than the phenomenon we called DUMSOR. It wassymptomatic of a dysfunctional system, and it caused widespreaddepression amongst businesses and households. After that experience, my government was determined that DUMSORwould not be inflicted upon Ghana and Ghanaians under an NPPgovernment, and I am glad to be able to say, SO FAR, SO GOOD, we havemanaged to keep the lights on these last seven (7) years, even in themidst of a financial crisis.We have managed the energy sector with discipline and expertise, toavoid a repetition of the hardships inflicted on Ghanaians some years ago.Furthermore, through determined, skilful negotiation, we have been ableto reduce considerably the energy sector debt that we inherited. Indeed,the Government Negotiating Team carried out a successful reconciliationexercise with the IPPs and ECG, which established that the IPP arrearsposition was not the one-point-six billion dollars (US$1.6 billion) that hadbeen previously reported in the media, but was actually one-point-twobillion dollars (US$1.2 billion), that is savings of some four hundred milliondollars (US$400 million). Additionally, the Government Negotiating Teamhas reached commercial agreements on headline terms for therestructuring of power purchase agreements and arrears with AKSA, Amandi, Cenpower, CENIT and Early Power, and is finalising remainingdefinitive documentation of such terms, which will result in total expectedsavings in excess of nine-point-one-billion dollars (US$9.1 billion) over thelifespan of the IPP projects. In the meantime, ECG has been able to securea fixed monthly energy purchase price with all the IPPs. This has led to amonthly payment of forty-three million dollars (US$43 million), instead ofseventy-seven million dollars (US$77 million), that is monthly savings of


thirty-four million dollars (US$34 million) or a forty-four percent (44%)reduction in monthly payments, a far better outcome than the “Take-Or-Pay” system we inherited.Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that we are making admirable progressin the provision of electricity to all parts of the country. Last year, twohundred and seven (207) communities were connected to the grid, takingthe current national electricity access rate to eighty-eight-point-eight-fivepercent (88.85%). We are aiming to achieve universal access this year,by connecting an additional four hundred (400) communities to thenational grid under the Self-Help Electrification Programme (SHEP)and other Turnkey Projects. As part of efforts to improve power system reliability in the middle andnorthern parts of Ghana, Government took a decision to relocate the twohundred and fifty megawatt (250MW) Ameri Plant from Aboadze to Anwomaso in Kumasi. The Volta River Authority (VRA) has successfullyrelocated six (6) Units of the Ameri Plant, with capacity of one hundredand fifty megawatts (150MW), which are currently being tested andcommissioned in Kumasi. The Authority is taking steps to relocate theremaining four (4) units before the end of the year.Mr Speaker, we are also making steady progress in our commitment toincrease the component of renewable energy to our energy generationmix. A four-megawatt floating solar PV on the Bui Reservoir, as well asthe fifteen megawatt (15MW) solar PV at Kaleo, have been completed andare both operational. They have contributed to increasing our share ofsolar energy to the generation mix to three-point-two percent (3.2%). Aone hundred megawatt (100MW) solar PV under is under construction atBui, as is the Mini-grid Electrification Programme ongoing in the Ada EastDistrict, all of which will help us attain our target of ten percent (10%)renewable energy in our generation mix by 2030.Mr Speaker, furthermore, we have committed ourselves to thedevelopment of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. As I indicated atthe US-Africa Nuclear Energy Summit and the International Frameworkfor Nuclear Energy Co-operation (IFNEC) Ministerial Conference, held in Accra in November last year, the first of its kind in Africa, our energytransition plan envisages thirty percent (30%) of our electricity productionto be from nuclear energy by 2070, which is the core mandate of the


Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO), an entity underthe Office of the President. This strong commitment and position aregeared towards the provision of clean and affordable electricity to driveour industralisation agenda. It is also meant to position Ghana as a netpower exporter in the ECOWAS region through the West African PowerPool.Mr Speaker, we have also succeeded in having the Secretariat of theClimate Vulnerable Forum, an inter-governmental forum of fifty-eight (58)of the most climate vulnerable countries, representing some 1.4 billionpeople, located in Accra.Mr Speaker, we have all heard about the Gold for Oil Programme. It hasbeen explained, debated and talked about. At this moment, all I want tosay about it is that the Gold for Oil Programme has worked well, andreduced significantly forex pressures on bulk energy storage,transportation and bulk imports, distribution and export companies, andenabled them to negotiate more competitive premiums with suppliers.Premiums dropped from one hundred and eighty to two hundred dollarsper metric tonnes ($180-200/MT) to seventy dollars per metric tonnes($70/MT) or less. This also resulted in reduced and stabilized prices at thepumps of between twelve to thirteen cedis (GH¢12-13) per litre for thewhole of 2023.We are taking steps to rectify some of the handicaps that have limited thefull participation of Ghanaians in the oil and gas industry. For years, thewell-paid jobs in the industry were taken exclusively by foreign nationals,because we did not have people qualified in those fields.Last year, one hundred and fifty (150) young Ghanaians were trained andcertified as mechanical maintenance technicians, electrical technicians,instrumentation technicians and production process technicians up to theindustry standards. Additionally, five young Ghanaians underwent a ten-month welding inspector training programme at the North AlbertaInstitute of Technology, Canada. They have since been placed in varioustechnical institutions in Ghana as instructors. Ghanaians will soon fill thewell-paid positions on our oil fields, because we have the trained andqualified personnel. Things are looking up.Mr Speaker, it is quite likely that the most talked about subject in ourcountry is roads and highways. When I appeared in the House last year,


as I said earlier, I took the extraordinary step of coming with a fat bookthat detailed all the works that the Government had done, and was doingon roads since coming into office in 2017. I believe it was generally agreedthat it was impressive, but it was not enough to satisfy everyone.Well, the work continues, even though some of the major road workshave been temporarily interrupted as a result of the debt negotiations. AsI have said earlier, all the details will be available on the PerformanceTracker. Other modes of movement around the country are being builtand upgraded to open up the country, and make travel easier.Mr Speaker, the new standard gauge railway line from the Port of Temato Mpakadan in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region, coveringa distance of some one hundred kilometres (100kms), is at the final stageof completion. By the middle of the year, the line will be commissionedfor operations to commence with brand new standard gauge dieselmultiple unit trains, the first of their kind to be used in our country.It is worth mentioning a rail bridge has been built across the Volta, as partof this railway line. I have no doubt it will attract a lot of interest. I am agreat believer in the importance of aesthetics, as much as the practical,and that is why I encouraged the contractors to construct the rail bridge,which was not part of the original contract, across the Volta to make the journey more scenic.The development is on course of a new standard gauge Western RailwayLine to serve passengers, the mining sector, as well as supportindustrialisation to boost the development and growth of this nation. Theplans for the extension of the railway line to Paga might not materialiseduring my administration, but I am sure they will not be abandoned.Mr Speaker, there is no argument that food self-sufficiency is the basicrequirement for national security and the foundation for building aprosperous nation. Last year, Government reviewed the Planting for Foodand Jobs (PFJ) Programme, which had been implemented since 2017.Based on lessons learnt, Government developed and launched, under thedynamic leadership of the new Minister for Food and Agriculture, thesecond phase of the PFJ.The second phase of the PFJ sets out a 5-year agenda to ensure food self-sufficiency and resilience. Strategic targets have been set for eleven (11)


priority products in the immediate term (September to December 2023),short term (year 2024), medium term (2025 -2026), and the long term(2027-2028). The selected products are maize, rice, soybean, sorghum,tomato, pepper, onion, cassava, yam, plantain and poultry.Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that production estimates for thesepriority products revealed that the planned targets for the year have beenexceeded for all the products, except poultry. Poultry, obviously, requiresextra attention, and that is exactly what we are doing. We have everyintention of meeting the domestic production targets for poultry this year,2024, and moving onto production levels that will lead to reduction inpoultry imports. We envisage a vigorous co-operation betweengovernment and the private sector to achieve the set target.Mr Speaker, the surest way of making agriculture attractive to youngpeople is to take the drudgery out of farming, and Government iscontinuing to make agricultural machinery and equipment easily available.Under the third and final tranche of the Brazilian More Food Programme,tractors with accompanying implements, power tillers with accessories,maize shellers, units of combine harvesters, and rice millers have beendistributed to farmers, processors and mechanisation service providers onhire purchase arrangement. This year, under the Indian Exim Facility,tractors with matching implements, planters, boom sprayers, combineharvesters and corn pickers will also be made available.Mr Speaker, having determined that large scale commercial farming is theeasiest way to achieve our set goal of food self-sufficiency, Government,under the second phase of the PFJ, will establish Agricultural Zones as acomplementary initiative to address the issue of access to large tracts ofagriculture land, to drive sustainable and commercially orientedagriculture. This will significantly expand Ghana’s productive capacity inproducts such as rice, soybean, maize and tomato. Indeed, between 2021and 2023, rice imports fell by some forty-five percent (45%). In 2021, riceimports amounted to eight hundred and five thousand metric tonnes(805,000MT); in 2022, six hundred and fifty thousand metric tonnes(650,000MT); and, in 2023, four hundred and forty thousand metrictonnes (440,000MT). This healthy trajectory will continue until we achievefull self-sufficiency in rice production.For each Agricultural Zone, Government will partner with the privatesector to provide the necessary irrigation infrastructure, develop access


roads, extend power (solar/hydro) and provide mechanization services. Various locations across the country with potential to be food basketshave been identified for the establishment of the Agricultural Zones. Theyinclude Afram Plains, Tsopoli, Kumawu, Krachi and Nkoranza, amongstothers.Mr Speaker, we all witnessed the spectacular increment of the cocoa pricefrom eight hundred cedis per bag (GH¢800) to one thousand, threehundred cedis (GH¢1,300) per bag in the current cocoa season, thehighest increase in fifty (50) years. With the current trend of the worldcocoa price, cocoa farmers can be sure that I will do right by them in thenext cocoa season.Mr Speaker, Government has begun the development of seven thousand,one hundred hectares (7,100Ha) irrigation infrastructure in five (5)identified economic enclaves within the Afram Plains Agricultural Zone.Work is also continuing towards the completion of the Tamne Phase IIIExtension and Vea Irrigation Schemes. This will make additional onethousand, two hundred and fifty hectares (1,250Ha) of irrigable landavailable for cultivation of rice and vegetables.The Ghana Irrigation Development Authority will continue with thedevelopment of small earth dams in the Northern, Upper East, UpperWest, North East and Savannah Regions to support the “One- Village One-Dam” (1V1D) Initiative.Whilst at it, Mr Speaker, we have not forgotten about the welfare andwellbeing of our fisherfolk. My government has completed theconstruction of twelve (12) coastal fish landing sites at Axim and Dixcovein the Western Region, Moree, Mumford, Winneba, Senya Beraku, GomoaFeteh, Otuam and Mfantseman in the Central Region, Teshie and Osu inthe Greater Accra Region, and Keta in the Volta Region. Additionally, Ihad the pleasure, in May last year, of commissioning the newlyconstructed Elmina Fishing Harbour in the Central Region, much againstthe hopes of the naysayers, and, God willing, soon this year, I will alsocommission the Jamestown Fishing Harbour, which currently stands ateighty-eight percent (88%) complete, and is expected to be ready by August 2024.Mr Speaker, to help address the incidence of premix fuel diversion andhoarding, Government, last year, completed the installation of fifty (50)


out of the three hundred (300) premix fuel automated dispensers. Myexpectation is that the remaining automated dispensers will be installedby September this year, to help optimise the distribution of premix fuel.Government will continue to take decisive actions, such as the closeseason, to help safeguard the ocean’s capacity to regenerate and tocontinue to deliver substantial economic, environmental, and social valuefor our development.Mr. Speaker, last year, Ghana regained her position as the leadingproducer of gold in Africa, having overtaken South Africa. Our goldproduction reached an unprecedented four million ounces (4 million oz),according to preliminary reports. This is as a result of the progressivepolicies we have been implementing, which have led to the revival ofdormant mines like the Obuasi and Bibiani Mines, and the expansion ofexisting ones. The reduction in withholding tax on unprocessed gold bysmall scale miners, from three percent (3%) to one and a half percent(1.5%), has resulted in some nine hundred percent (900%) increment ingold export from the small-scale sector, over the last two (2) years.Leveraging on these resources, we introduced the innovative Gold for OilPolicy, which accounts for some thirty percent (30%) of our total crudeoil consumption.Currently, three (3) large scale mines are under construction in Ahafo,Upper East and Upper West Regions, with Cardinal Namdini set to pourits first gold in the Upper East Region in the last quarter of this year. Withthese new mines, our gold production is expected to increase to somefour point five million ounces (4.5 million oz) annually.Mr. Speaker, to add value to these volumes of production, we haveconstructed, through a public private partnership, a four hundredkilogramme (400kg) capacity gold refinery, and we are in the final stagesof negotiations for a London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Certificate.For our green minerals, including lithium, we have put in place a policyfor their exploitation and management, to ensure beneficiation across thevalue chain of these critical minerals.Mr. Speaker, as it has been widely reported, Newmont Corporation, theworld’s largest gold producing company, which operates two huge minesin our country, and is constructing a third, has announced its intention tosell its Akyem Mine in the Eastern Region, the third largest mine in the


country, which produced some four hundred and twenty thousand(420,000) ounces of gold in 2022. As part of Government’s policy toindigenize the mining sector, we will engage with Newmont to give priorityto Ghanaian investors who will want to acquire this mine, to ensure thatour mineral resources better benefit the Ghanaian people.Mr. Speaker, we continue to work to ensure the protection of our forestand wildlife resources, while reclaiming degraded forests. Some forty-twomillion (42 million) trees have been planted over the last three years,under the Green Ghana Project, and some six hundred and ninetythousand hectares (690,000 ha) of degraded forest have been cultivatedbetween 2017 and 2022, under the Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy.Mr. Speaker, the main cornerstone of our move towards the industrialtransformation of Ghana is the “One-District-One Factory” policy, thisGovernment’s iconic flagship initiative. It demonstrates how governmentcan stimulate and incentivize the private sector to expand and diversifymanufacturing across the country by harnessing locally available rawmaterials. It is significant to note that, within the relatively short span ofsix (6) years, Government has directly intervened to stimulate interest in,and support many private sector business promoters to make significantinvestments in manufacturing under the One-District-One-FactoryProgramme.Mr. Speaker, this has led to the development of three hundred andtwenty-one (321) 1D1F projects, consisting of two hundred and eleven(211) new, medium to large scale factories, and the conscious enablingof one hundred and ten (110) existing companies, to inject significantcapital investments into the expansion of production facilities, anddiversification of products. These business promoters have so far investedin one hundred and forty-two (142) districts across the country, across allsixteen (16) regions, and achieving fifty-four percent (54%) districtcoverage. The aspiration is to bring a 1D1F project to every district.Mr. Speaker, within this period, some one hundred and seventy thousand(170,000) jobs have been created under the novel 1D1F Programme bycompanies in operation.Mr. Speaker, Government approved a number of incentives, including dutyexemptions to support the implementation of the 1D1F Programme. In2019 and 2020, thirty-seven (37) 1D1F companies were granted


exemptions approval by this august house. However, from 2021 to date,no exemptions have been granted.Mr. Speaker, I urge the House to consider and approve all the outstandingexemption applications as a matter of urgency, to send positive signals tothe business community. The exemptions law that you have passedprovides for such exemptions under existing laws.Mr. Speaker, the other initiative aimed at stimulating industrial growththat we have been actively promoting is automotive assembly andcomponent manufacturing. It is universally recognized as a key strategicsector for stimulating industrial transformation. The comprehensive Automotive Development Policy, launched by Government in August,2019, has undoubtedly been the catalyst that has attracted a recordnumber of twelve (12) Original Equipment Manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, Peugeot, KIA, Hyundai, Honda to setup assembly plants, and produce a range of models here in Ghana.Mr. Speaker, it is noteworthy that these investments have beenaccompanied with complimentary initiatives to build the necessaryengineering and technical skills in Ghana. Toyota Ghana has partneredthe School of Engineering Sciences of the University of Ghana to establishand operate a modern Auto Engineering Training Centre for engineeringstudents and the industry to acquire applied auto engineering training.Similarly, KIA Motor Company of Korea has upgraded the Rana MotorsWest African Vehicle Academy (WAVA), with state-of-the-art equipmentfor training of auto repair and maintenance technicians, including repairand maintenance of Electric Vehicles.Mr. Speaker, to spur our industrialisation, we are implementing the FourProject Agenda of the Ghana Integrated Aluminium DevelopmentCorporation (GIADEC), with Projects 1 and 2 having, already, taken off,and last month, we signed an agreement for the implementation of Project3. Mr. Speaker, we will lay before this august House, at this First Meetingof this Session of Parliament, a Legislative Instrument to prohibit theexport of bauxite in its raw state. We are, also, in the concluding phaseof discussions for the establishment of a four hundred and fifty million USdollar (US$450 million) refinery to refine the manganese we produce.Mr. Speaker, we have all long acknowledged that trade between Africancountries must increase if we are to make any headway with our dreams


of prosperity on the continent. I am happy to report that the setting upof the AfCFTA, with headquarters here in Accra, is beginning to showpositive results. Ghana is one of the seven (7) countries selected toparticipate in the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) of the AfCFTA Secretariat,and this has enabled us to make significant inroads into East Africa,notably Kenya and Tanzania. Over seven hundred (700) AfCFTA certifiedproducts from Ghana, like cosmetics, processed foods, beverages,coconut oil, shea butter and garments have been targeted at the AfCFTAmarket under the Guided Trade Initiative. I would like to make specialmention of Kasapreko Company Limited, one of our iconic local beveragemanufacturers, which has commenced exports to the Kenyan market.It is a fact worth celebrating that many other Ghanaian companies nowhave set their horizons way beyond the shores of our country, and seethe entire African continent as the market to aim at.Mr Speaker, in speaking about the work space and jobs, our thoughtsinvariably turn to young people and for some people, to the formal sectorand formal sector jobs. We often forget that formal sector employees formonly a small part of the working population. This small percentage of theworking population tends to be the ones that are covered by pensionschemes and, unfortunately, the majority of workers in the country do nothave any pensions.To that extent, in May last year, SSNIT launched the Self-EmployedEnrolment Drive (SEED), an initiative which seeks to improve coverageand increase the contributor base of the SSNIT Scheme. Since the launchof the SEED initiative, some six hundred thousand (600,000) self-employed persons have been enrolled onto the programme, and now havesome form of social security cover.Effective 1


 January 2024, all pensioners on the SSNIT Pension Payroll asof 31


 December 2023, have had their monthly pensions increased byfifteen percent (15%). This translates to ten-point-zero-five percent(10.05%) effective increase for the highest-earning pensioners, andthirty-six-point-three-seven percent (36.37%) effective increase for thelowest-earning pensioners. The fifteen percent (15%) indexation rate willresult in an additional expenditure of six hundred and ninety-seven millioncedis (GH¢697.64 million). The total benefit expenditure for Government,under the SSNIT Scheme alone, is projected to increase from five-point-


four billion cedis (GH¢5.446 billion) in 2023 to seven billion cedis(GH¢7.034 billion) in 2024.Mr Speaker, I believe we can say with certainty that, in the tourism sector,Ghana is finally realising her long-promised potential. Starting from theevents and excitement of the Year of Return in 2019, Ghana has trulybecome an attractive tourist destination, with visitor numbers increasingevery year. “December in GH” is now an established and increasinglyattractive phenomenon, which brings visitors to our country in the monthof December, and has changed the events calendar around the Christmasholiday season in Accra and many other towns.Mr Speaker, for the first time since the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Parkwas constructed in 1992, Government has undertaken a fullmodernisation rehabilitation of the facility. Since the commissioning of themodernised park in July 2023, the number of domestic and internationalvisitors has risen dramatically. A national newspaper, reporting on activities at the revamped Park, hada screaming headline which said


. That gave me pause for a moment, but, on reflection, Idecided I would accept it, be it a compliment, or criticism or an additionto the collection of sayings by our elders. Whichever it is, since thecommissioning, there have been two hundred and eight thousand, fivehundred and fifty-seven (208,557) domestic and international visitors tothe Park between 14


 July and 31


 December 2023. Mr Speaker, comparethat, if you may, with the best performance until then, which was in the Year of Return in 2019, when there were one hundred and twenty-sixthousand, one hundred and ninety (126,190) visitors in the year. Otherfacilities are being upgraded, and it is good to note that the private sectoris showing interest, and getting into the development of tourist attractionsites.Mr Speaker, the National Museum Gallery, which had been closed downsince 2015, has also been fully refurbished. It attracted over thirty-fivethousand (35,000) visitors in 2023, and I am particularly pleased thatschool children form a good part of the visitors to these sites.The first-ever Kente Museum, aimed at preserving the cultural heritage inGhana, has been built at Bonwire in the Ashanti Region, and was recentlycommissioned by the Second Lady. Preparatory works and designs for the


construction of the Heroes Park, a museum to commemorate the foundingfathers of Ghana, the Big Six, JB Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey,Edward Akufo-Addo, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, William Ofori-Atta, KwameNkrumah, were completed in December 2023, and construction willcommence very soon.Mr Speaker, Government, through the National Film Authority, iscommitted to supporting the production of world class content and films,as well as increasing the cinema infrastructure in Ghana and, byextension, on the continent. To this end, a favourable fiscal (tax) regimefor cinema projects, including income tax and VAT incentives, import dutyexemptions on film production equipment, twenty percent (20%) taxrebate for strategic film productions and film financing reliefs, is beingelaborated by Cabinet, which should be out-doored very soon, and shouldprovide another tangible reason for the choice of Ghana as a filmproduction country.Mr. Speaker, in line with government’s commitment to ensure genderequality, the revised National Gender Policy and the Affirmative Action Billwere approved by Cabinet in October 2023. The Affirmative Action Bill iscurrently before Parliament for consideration and approval. We count onthe support of Parliament for speedy passage of the Bill. The GhanaEnterprises Agency (GEA) is implementing an only women supportprogramme, where micro, small and medium enterprises, owned bywomen, with the potential for scaling up their operations, increasing salesand creating sustainable jobs, will receive liquidity support.The GEA is also implementing the YouStart Programme, a youthempowerment programme, which recently disbursed one hundred millioncedis (GH¢100 million) to some three thousand youth beneficiaries toupscale their businesses.Mr. Speaker, we are also implementing some interventions directed atproviding support for persons with disabilities. In June, last year, asignificant boost was given to micro, small and medium enterprises ownedby persons with disabilities, when Government launched the twelve-million-cedi (GH¢12 million) PWD Enterprise Support Programme. Thisgrant support programme, under the Ghana Transformative Project, isbeing funded by the World Bank. Again, the Youth Employment Agencyhas initiated a ground breaking employment drive targeting two hundredand eighty-two (282) persons with disabilities who worked at tollbooths.


Mr. Speaker, let me now turn to football, a sport that is dear to the heartsof all Ghanaians. I am sure I disclose no state secret if I state that I ammyself, an ardent football enthusiast – and once played in the Universityof Ghana team with my friend, the late President John Evans Fiifi Atta-Mills.Throughout the years, the national team, the Black Stars, has held aspecial place in the affection of Ghanaians. They lifted up our spirits, asthey dominated Africa, and won four (4) continental trophies. They have,at other times, broken our hearts. But it was not until 2006 that the BlackStars finally broke through to the world stage, when they qualified for theWorld Cup for first time. You would remember that we rose up as one inour support and they did not disappoint. Then came the spectacular South Africa 2010 World Cup and its drama, when we almost became the first African side to reach the semifinals of the World Cup.It is fair to say that, since the sad events of Brazil 2014, many Ghanaianshave been left disappointed by some of the recent results of the BlackStars. Various attempts have made to revive the fortunes of the nationalteam, and rebuild the enthusiasm of the people with varying degrees ofsuccess.The recent AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire was probably the nadir of theperformance of the Black Stars, and has left the nation saddened.However, I am quite certain that the young men and the technicalhandlers would, themselves, have wanted to make our nation proud, andI believe that the captain, Andre Dede Ayew, meant every word when herendered heartfelt apologies on behalf of his team-mates to all Ghanaiansfor the team’s early exit.Mr Speaker, I believe it is time for us to take a long-term, far-sightedapproach to correct what has gone wrong. It is time to return to scouting,grooming and developing talent at the district grassroots level under aPresidential Policy on Football that I intend to unveil.

The school sportsdepartment of the Ministry of Education will work hand in hand with theMinistry of Youth and Sports, in collaboration and synergy with the GhanaFootball Association (GFA), to build district, regional and national juvenileteams for both boys and girls.The more than one hundred and fifty (150) astro turf pitches constructedthroughout the country, under this administration, provide the


foundational facilities to make a start, as we strive to provide more ofthem. We should see a steady progression of talent up the ladder fromthe junior juvenile teams to the senior sides based on merit, and nothingelse. A similar approach has been tried before, under the five (5)-year footballdevelopment plan, led by the late Ben Koufie, and initiated under the NPPadministration of President JA Kufuor. It was under this plan that talentssuch as Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, John Mensah, Derrick Boateng andlater, Asamoah Gyan and Stephen Appiah, were discovered and nurtured.The results became evident to us and the world. It takes time, dedicationand patience. We cannot harvest where we have not planted andirrigated. I have no doubt at all that the Black Stars will rise and make usproud again.Mr. Speaker, the senior Women’s team the Black Queens who do not gethalf the attention the Black Stars get, have been performing quitecreditably. They had gone for ten (10) matches without any loss until lastDecember’s when they lost narrowly to Namibia in Windhoek in the finalqualifying round for the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. Even thoughthey lost narrowly to Zambia in the first leg of the qualifiers for the 2024Olympic Games, let us wish them well in the second leg to be played inLusaka tomorrow, and hope they give us something to cheer about.Mr Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to report that all the preparationsare ready for Ghana to welcome sports men and women from around thecontinent to participate in the 13


 edition of the African Games. It seemsincredible, but this is the first time that Ghana will be hosting these games.It has taken a lot of courage to have persisted with the decision to hostthe games, especially when our financial problems came in the midst ofthe preparations. But I am glad we went ahead.The preparations are all complete, and I was excited and very pleasedwith what I saw at Borteyman when I went to commission the Gamesvillage some two (2) weeks ago. We have high class sporting facilitieswhich should serve us well long after the games are over.Some of the events will take place at the University of Ghana SportsStadium. It is worth noting that this is a facility started under formerPresident J.A. Kufuor, and was abandoned by successor governments.


I am exceedingly proud that this project has been finished under mystewardship, not just because of the games, but also because it has takenseventy-five (75) years of existence for Legon, Ghana’s PremierUniversity, to have a sports stadium. I urge all Ghanaians to make ourvisitors welcome, and to patronise the games and cheer on theparticipants.Mr Speaker, this is the seventh time that I have appeared before thisHouse, as President, to give an accounting of the state of our nation.Luckily for me, I know my way around the place, having spent twelvememorable (12) years here as a Member of Parliament, and, therefore,even on the few occasions that sections of the House did not want tomake me welcome, I was still able to manage.I have one more scheduled date with the House, when I would be hereto give an accounting of my time in office. By that time, my successorwould have been elected, and we would be getting ready for theswearing-in ceremony. The elections will be held peacefully, and thecandidate with credibility to take us on to a higher level will win. Let mewish all of us well in the elections on 7


 December.Before then, there a number of important tasks lie ahead of us, one ofwhich will be commissioning the Nana Agyeman Prempeh I International Airport in Kumasi, and naming the recently commissioned airport inTamale the Yakubu Tali International Airport.Mr. Speaker, we stumbled, but we are rising again. We were bruised, butwe are healing. We have recovered our footing. We have dusted ourselvesoff, and now we face tomorrow with confidence.Every day we pray and hope that adversity may spare our families, ourcommunities and our dear nation. But should we be confronted bymisfortune; we must face it like people with a proud history who fight anddo not flee. Yenim ko; yen nim adwane. That is the Ghanaian spirit. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button