President Nana Akufo-Addo has urged African countries to take charge of their destiny and not to allow national budgets to be over-dependent on aid. He was speaking at a High-Level Dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Government of Ghana. The event themed: “Africa’s money for African development: a future Beyond Aid”, explored how Africa can optimize the use of its resources, creativity and innovation to finance the continent’s development agenda and ambition effectively, Communications Specialist of UNDP, Ms Praise Nutakor, said in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency. “Africa beyond aid is about mutual benefit, and we must change our perspective to collectively stand on our own feet and forge stronger partnerships that serve Africa’s interests,” President Akufo-Addo said. Globally, Africa presents some of the brightest growth prospects, with six out of the 12th fastest growing economies in the world. This includes Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Tanzania and Rwanda. While in the last decade, African economies have been growing at an average rate of 4.7 percent, there remains a challenge of creating jobs and designing agile responses for inclusive development. According to the statement, the dialogue looked at how Africa could innovatively capitalize on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which marks an important point, pivoted by an opportunity to accelerate intra-African trade, regional integration and to take advantage of the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution. African business and private sector leaders were encouraged to invest in the continent especially young people, create jobs opportunities and safeguard Africa’s wealth by supporting local entrepreneurs to evolve from informal to formal structures of doing business. This is to ensure that regional and global initiatives adequately support sustained economic development that would deliver prosperity, opportunity and stability for all citizens. “We need a new perspective that shifts the focus from aid as life-support to effectively invest Africa’s resources and wealth to transform the continent’s development,” Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP also said. “Correctly used development assistance could be a catalyst for broad-based economic growth and development; and, deliver prosperity, self-reliance, opportunity and stability for all citizens”. Dr. Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, King of Toro Kingdom, added: “We want an Africa that is united and prosperous, inspired by a new narrative that shifts perception of Africans towards taking ownership and becoming the architects of our own development agenda.” The statement said the cross-disciplinary interactions at the High-Level Dialogue are expected to shape UNDP’s strategic offer for Africa and enhance programme design for development. Besides, development partners were urged to realign their strategic development agenda for Africa, to get Africa out of aid. “This is to reverse the mentality that views foreign assistance as a permanent life support mechanism, to an enabler to take Africa to the next level”. Pragmatically, in positioning Africans to take ownership and champion the continent’s development agenda, UNDP unveiled a 15-member super-group of its African Influencers for Development initiative, recently launched during the 74th UN General Assembly in New York. UNDP also presented a digital data platform, the African Business Map, which showcases innovative business ventures across a wide range of sectors and regions, to support investment and promote private sector partnerships. The insights from the High-Level Dialogue will trigger useful debates and discussions beyond the event to influence evolving governance models that can support Africa’s development and transformation. Further, ideas from the talks will contribute towards the implementation of the new AfCFTA Resource Centre in Accra, Ghana. Across Africa, there is a rising demand for new forms of transformational leadership, which begins with a distinct change in mind-sets and a renewed commitment to do things differently.