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US President Barack Hussein Obama yesterday predicted that the 21st Century will not only be shaped by happenings in the advanced economies, but what takes place in Africa as well.

He drew a linkage between the prosperity of Africa and America, saying that Africa as a fundamental part of the interconnected world must be grounded in mutual responsibility.

President Obama said in a speech dubbed: "A New Moment of Promise" to Ghana Parliament, televised live nationwide, on his historic first visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

The 48-year-old President has visited Russia for a summit between the two great powers and the G8 Summit in Italy before arriving in Ghana accompanied by his wife and children.

He said he came to Ghana for the simple reason that the "21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra as well."

President Obama stressed on good governance and structures as fundamental to the continent's development, which he observed have been missing for far too long.
"In my father's life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch, derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many."

President Obama commended the people of Ghana for working hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections.

President Obama said despite the progress that had been made in parts of Africa, there is the need to change Africa's relationship with America as patron to partner.
However, this "progress may lack the drama of the 20th century's liberation struggles".

President Obama cautioned that it would be more challenging to emerge from the control of another nation, and even more important to build one's own.
He said mutual responsibility must be the foundation of the partnership, and focused the four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world as: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

With emphasis on strong and sustainable democratic governments, President Obama observed that governments that respect the will of the people are more prosperous, more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.

President Obama said in the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions like strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society were the things that give life to democracy and what mattered in peoples' lives.

President Obama said time and again Ghanaians have chosen Constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of the people to break through.

We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in the police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage, and participating in the political process. "

President Obama underlined the need for people to take control of their destiny, and make change from the bottom up, adding that history is often on the side of brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power.

President Obama said as the US reached for this promise, it will be more responsible in extending its hand and by cutting costs that go to Western consultants and administration, "we will put more resources in the hands of those who need it, while training people to do more for themselves".

President Obama said America can do more to promote trade and investment, and called on wealthy nations to open its doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way.

He said where there is good governance it can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; and financial services that reach poor and rural areas.

He said Africa gives off less greenhouse gas than any other part of the world, but it is the most threatened by climate change, but warming planet will spread disease, shrink water resources, and deplete crops, creating conditions that produce more famine and conflict.

President Obama said the developed world particularly has a responsibility to slow those trends through mitigation, and by changing the way that "we use energy", adding that it can also work with Africans to turn the crisis into opportunity.

On public health, President Obama said enormous progress has been made in parts of Africa. "Far more people are living productively with HIV/AIDS, and getting the drugs they need. But too many still die from diseases that shouldn't kill them. When children are being killed because of a mosquito bite, and mothers are dying in childbirth, then we know that more progress must be made".

"Yet because of incentives - often provided by donor nations - many African doctors and nurses understandably go overseas, or work for programmes that focus on a single disease. This creates gaps in primary care and basic prevention.

Meanwhile, individual Africans also have to make responsible choices that prevent the spread of disease, while promoting public health in their communities and countries.

Across Africa, there are examples of people tackling these problems. In Nigeria, an Interfaith effort of Christians and Muslims has set an example of co-operation to confront malaria. Here in Ghana and across Africa, we see innovative ideas for filling gaps in care - for instance, through E-Health initiatives that allow doctors in big cities to support those in small towns",

He said there is a call of conscience and common interest to help prevent disease, adding that his Administration commits $63 billion to meet those challenges.

President Obama said the US Administration will build on the efforts of his predecessor, Mr George Walker Bush, and would carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, and pursue the goal of ending deaths from malaria and tuberculosis, and eradicating polio.

"We will fight neglected tropical diseases. And we won't confront illnesses in isolation - we will invest in public health systems that promote wellness, and focus on the health of mothers and children."

He called for Africa's diversity to be a source of strength, not a cause for division, and with an expression of belief as all being God's children, adding, "we must stand up to inhumanity in our midst. It is never justifiable to target innocents in the name of ideology.

He said Ghanaians should take pride in their contributions to peacekeeping from Congo to Liberia to Lebanon, and in their efforts to resist the scourge of the drug trade.

The US President said America welcomes the steps that are being taken by organisations like the African Union and ECOWAS to better resolve conflicts, keep the peace, and support those in need. "And we encourage the vision of a strong, regional security architecture that can bring effective, trans-national force to bear when needed.

He called on Africans to take their future into their own hands, and announced that African-Americans in the US including so many recent immigrants have thrived in every sector of society despite a difficult past.
"Fifty-two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King travelled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: "It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice".

"Now, that triumph must be won once more, it must be won by you. And I am particularly speaking to the young people. In places like Ghana, you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it."

" And if you do, we will look back years from now to places like Accra and say that this was the time when the promise was realised - this was the moment when prosperity was forged; pain was overcome; and a new era of progress began. This can be the time when we witness the triumph of justice once more."
Source: GNA

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