His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, delivered this year’s keynote address to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ Emerging Security Sector Leaders Seminar. The annual academic program brought together over 50 rising civilian and uniformed security professionals from 35 African countries to reflect critically and strategically on Africa’s security challenges. President Akufo-Addo’s remarks reflected on “the truth … that peace, freedom, and prosperity walk in tandem … and that wherever these three go, respect always follows.”
Drawing on the history of Ghana, he advised the next generation of African security leaders to identify what causes unrest and wars on the continent to develop and implement effective solutions. The tumultuous early decades of Ghana’s post-independence period were wracked by government instability, prompting economic collapse and the exodus of citizens. However, for the past three decades, accountable government under a multiparty constitution has brought about a reversal of these trends and provided sustained benefits to citizens. Power has been transferred from one political party to another three times during this period, delivering stability, respectful liberties, economic growth, and self-confidence.
“The reappearance of coups in Africa in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned.”
President Akufo-Addo singled out the electoral process as an area where Ghana has systematically improved its maintenance of democratic guardrails, highlighted by 79 percent voter turnout in 2020 and disputes resolved peacefully through the courts. This contrasts with cases elsewhere on the continent, in which unconstitutional changes of government have brought about instability. Citing the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, President Akufo-Addo observed that 18 African leaders have either modified or eliminated constitutional term limits in the past two decades, bringing the number of countries that lack restraints on executive power to 24. This erosion of term limits and the coups d’états they have helped instigate, have retarded peace and prosperity in the ECOWAS region recently, as President Akufo-Addo has seen firsthand as the Chairmen of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
President Akufo-Addo emphasized that “the reappearance of coups in Africa in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned by all since it seriously undermines our collective bid to rid the continent of the menace of instability and unconstitutional changes in government.” He charged the continent’s future security leaders with seeking and cherishing peace, rousing them to help realize what he sees as an Africa on the cusp of a great and unique new civilization.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Surge in Militant Violence in the Sahel Dominates Africa’s Fight against Extremists,” Infographic, January 24, 2022.
- Joseph Siegle, “Africa’s Coups and the Role of External Actors,” Spotlight, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, December 17, 2021.
- Joseph Siegle and Candace Cook, “Presidential Term Limits Key to Democratic Progress and Security in Africa,” Orbis, Summer 2021.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Autocracy and Instability,” Infographic, March 9, 2021.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “National Security Strategy Development in Africa: A Toolkit for Drafting and Consultation,” January 2021.
- Joseph Siegle and Candace Cook, “Circumvention of Term Limits Weakens Governance in Africa,” Infographic, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, September 14, 2020.
- Emile Ouédraogo, “Advancing Military Professionalism in Africa,” Africa Center for Strategic Studies Research Paper No. 6, July 2014.
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