Ambassador Alima Mahama joins Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in a panel on creating a self-sufficient Africa

Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States Her Excellency (H.E.) Hajia Alima Mahama joined Ilhan Omar, Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus representing the State of Minnesota, in the U.S. in a panel discussion themed “Self-Reliance: Advancing a Resilient and Self Sustaining Africa” on September 26 at the 51st Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.

The all-women panel whose discussion lasted over an hour and half included besides H.E. Mahama and Rep Omar, other impactful female leaders like Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, of the Republic of Rwanda to the U.S.; Enoh Ebong, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency; and Dina Esposito, USAID Global Food Crisis Coordinator.

“I’m grateful that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has provided an opportunity for us to talk about food security in Africa, not just talking about food security but looking at it from an African perspective” said H.E. Mahama.

The panel focused on analyzing African affairs, including building an autonomous and prosperous continent of Africa, infrastructure, food security, climatic resilience, and democratic governance.

Omar indicated that Africa has more than 1.3 billion people, over double the size of Europe. In her speech, she noted that by 2050, the population of Africa will have doubled, making up more than a quarter of all people on earth at almost 2.5 billion people on the continent.

However, the panel established that despite this population boom, Africa should be able to sustain itself because “Africa has more than 60% of the globe’s arable uncultivated land and a new trade agreement is expected.”

“Agriculture is the heartbeat of so many African nations. It’s the place where we’re going to lift the most people out of poverty, and at the same time, feed a growing world” said Esposito.

“But the continent faces serious threats. A third of children remain malnourished and a similar number are unable to complete secondary school. The Covid-19 pandemic had made these challenges more difficult, with many officials fearing Africa could lose a full decade of development,” said Omar.

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Furthermore, the panel stated Africa is at a stage where the rate of poverty is declining and migration is rising, thereby encouraging new business ideas, entrepreneurship and investment to rise as well.

Thus, they were confident that Africa is currently undergoing a rapid transformation and its economies are set for further growth.

The panel also opened up on U.S. aid involvement in Africa.

“The U.S. government is doing a tremendous amount of work to try and address those needs, both from agencies like USAID, and from an agency like the U.S. Trade Development Agency. That is looking to catalyze financing and investment into the solutions that our partners overseas together with the U.S. private sector can develop,” said Enoh in a post-panel interview.

Referencing the Center for International Development, the panel indicated that over the next five years, seven African countries are expected to be among the nations with the 15 fastest growth rates.

But the only way to maintain that according to Omar would be to target the root cause of [the problems that hinder their growth].

“Too often, the conversations around Africa’s development focus on international aid and foreign investment. But make no mistake, the only long-term path to Africa’s success is self-sufficiency,” said Omar.

“The African Continental Free Trade Area if implemented could raise incomes by 9% by 2025 and lift 50 million out of poverty,” added Omar.

Source: Embassy of Ghana, Washington DC

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