As 1961 draws to a close, I should like to talk to you, my fellow citizens, about our national aspirations and hopes, and the progress we have made in consolidating our independence.
I have told you on many occasions, of the basic goals which we have set before us in Ghana. We want to establish a happy society where men and women of all races can live together in peace and security; where hunger, unemployment, poverty and illiteracy no longer exist; where people are well housed; where our educational facilities will give our children every opportunity for learning; where every person can use his talents to the full and contribute to the general well being of our nation.
We cannot achieve any of these objectives, however, unless we are hardworking, disciplined and law-abiding. We only have to look to other parts of the world where the failure of Governments in this basic responsibility has led to human suffering and needless loss 0f lives. We must be careful to ensure that this does not happen here.
The Government of Ghana has had to deal recently with subversive acts and plots to overthrow our constitution by illegal means. It was necessary to deal with this dangerous situation swiftly and decisively in the interests of law and order. Our actions have been criticized, but I am sure that any Government faced with problems similar to our own would undoubtedly have taken similar action.
The story of the circumstances which led to the Government’s action against the recent conspiracy have already been published and known to you all. What l want to make quite clear is that, my Government intends to preserve the rights and freedom of our people so long as these are exercised within the limits of the law and without threat to the safety and security of the nation. The Government and people of Ghana attach the same values and human rights, freedom and dignity that all peoples do throughout the world. We welcome criticism, but what we shall not tolerate is subversion against the state and illegal acts designed to promote the selfish interests of a minority. We have been able to achieve much in 1961. More schools and hospitals have been built and we have established our own universities where our scholars can have access to the highest opportunities for learning in our own environment. More houses have been built and more basic services such as roads, power and water have been provided in many parts of the country. All these developments will provide a better life for our people.
The Armed Services, that is, the army, the navy and air force, are being expanded. The police force has been strengthened. The Black Star Shipping Line and the Ghana Airways have expanded their operations. The great new harbour at Tema has been virtually completed, and Accra Airport is rapidly being developed to a high international standard.
We have been active in all fields of agriculture. We have paid special attention to cocoa which for the present is our lifeblood. I have been greatly impressed with the improvement in our fishing industry which has been achieved both by the introduction of out-board motors on canoes and by the beginnings of intensive trawler operations. Much more can be done to diversify and mechanise our agriculture and we intend to do so.
Mining has been carried out successfully and we are intensifying geological surveys throughout the country. I am glad to say that, the gold mines which the Government purchased early this year have operated successfully. I am determined that our programme for industrializing Ghana should continue. In addition to those industries already established by the Government and by private investment, the Government intends to establish many other new industries. The foundations for the effective and rapid industrialisation of Ghana must rest on the provision of cheap and abundant power. Here, we must look to the Volta and our other rivers. The key to this is the great power development from the Volta at Akosombo and it is primarily about this project that I wish to speak to you tonight.
Before talking of the project itself, I want to pay a particular tribute to President Kennedy and the United States Government. The personal interest shown by the President in this vast project is great deal to me personally and to the people of Ghana. The project is another example of a growing number of instances where the goals and objectives of our two governments harmonise. This combined effort will doubtless strengthen the good will and friendship between our two countries and contribute generally to the well being of the United States and Ghana. The cooperation also demonstrates the awareness of the United States of the problems and aspirations of modem Africa.
After ten years unceasing effort, we have at last succeeded in getting this great scheme under way. We have obtained the necessary financial resources for its construction, and we have reached agreement with the Volta Aluminium Company for the establishment of a large smelter at Tema.
As the project now stands, I believe that it will be the largest single integrated scheme in Africa. By any international standards, it will represent one of the largest single investments in the world. Great sums of money are involved. We in Ghana who have always believed in this great national undertaking have from our own resources already invested nearly £G30 million in the construction of the new port at Tema which is an integral part of the Volta River Project. Essential roads and preliminary works at Akosombo and the new township at Tema have also been constructed from our resources.
The offer of these loans from the United States and the United Kingdom is, however, a genuine endeavour in which two of the most advanced and wealthiest countries of the world will be working in partnership with us on a basis of mutual understanding and complete equality. The United States Government’s interest in the Volta scheme goes even further than their loan to the Ghana Government of £G13 million. They have also lent a consortium of American aluminium companies about £G45 million in order to enable this group, which has formed a Ghanaian company known as VALCO, to erect a smelter in Ghana. This company, which is itself investing about £G15 million in the smelter, is prepared to enter into a thirty-year contract for the purchase of electric power from the Volta dam as soon as it is completed. The initial investment of £G60 million will in fact rise to about £G100 million as the smelter is developed to full capacity. This demonstrates how vital the smelter is to the Volta Project as a whole, and it will be seen that the resources provided by the United States Government and the American companies are therefore of the greatest help to Ghana.
However, in spite of such assistance from abroad, it is imperative that we should so order our national economy that we can repay the interest and principal on the loans which we have obtained. In five years time, when the dam is completed, there will be an abundance of electricity. Our factories must therefore be ready to use this power as soon as it becomes available.
How are we going to pay for such factories? In the western world when industrialisation started, there were many wealthy men ready to invest in new inventions and in new industries. Such a monied class does not exist in Ghana. If, therefore, we are to use the electricity which we shall soon have, we have three courses open to us. We may be able to find some foreign investors from foreign countries who are willing to invest in industry in Ghana. We shall, of course, welcome such investment. Private foreign investment from abroad is, however, open to a number of objections. First, the private investor naturally wishes to make as large a profit as possible and the types of industry and trade in which the largest profits can be made are not necessarily the ones which would serve the interests of Ghana. What we require are industries which will build up our export trade, diminish our need for foreign imports and employ as many of our people as possible, thus increasing the prosperity of our country.
Secondly, the foreign investor naturally wishes to export as much of his profit as possible to his own home country. Our interest is that profit from industry should be ploughed back into Ghana so as to develop further industry. Finally, if we rely exclusively or even largely upon private foreign investment for our industrialisation, we would in fact become politically and economically dependent upon expatriate interests. Indeed, all we should be doing would be to reintroduce colonialism in another guise. While, therefore, private foreign investment can play a useful and valuable part in the development of the country, we cannot expect it to play a major role.
The second method by which our industrialisation can be financed is by way of foreign loans and credits. For this purpose, credits have been obtained from the Soviet Union, China, and countries in Eastern Europe including Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Rumania, the German Democratic Republic and Hungary, amounting to no less than £100 million sterling. Such loans and credits are of great assistance to us but, whether they come either from the east or the west, they do not ultimately provide us with capital. They merely postpone the time when we have to pay for our new industries. In other words, we do not have to repay such credit until the project which it is used to establish is working satisfactorily. It is important therefore that we spent such loans on projects which will be remunerative and which, by the profits they make, will enable us to pay off the loans as quickly as possible.
It would be absurdly optimistic that we can secure through foreign loans, sufficient funds to finance our own developments. The Volta scheme, for which foreign loans of £30 million are now at last available, has taken nearly ten years to negotiate. If we had not been able to construct the Tema harbour out of our own resources, we should never even have been able to obtain the loan of £30 million required for the major project.
The lesson of the Volta negotiations is that, we must in the future depend upon our own resources in order to build the industries we shall require. Our task now is to make the Volta River Project a success. To achieve success, we will need good men to build the project and I am confident that the consortium of contractors at Akosombo, IMPREGILO, and our consulting engineers, Kaiser, will do first class work. Our own Ghanaians have already demonstrated, on projects such as the new port at Tema, what they can do, and I am certain that they will produce still more impressive results at Akosombo.
But, as I have said, men can only work well, if there is internal peace and stability. Therefore, the Government will continue to preserve and maintain stability in the country. Political and civil rights of all Ghanaian citizens will be strictly upheld. But this does not mean that a few people will be allowed to abuse and misuse these rights to jeopardize the security and sovereignty of our state. Similarly, we are determined to ensure that the best possible use is made of our own money and the loans from overseas. We therefore have an equally strong interest in preserving financial and economic stability. The Budget introduced last July was an important step in attaining this basic objective. Since then, we have established central economic planning machinery, and introduced physical control over imports and exports. The Government will take such further action as may be necessary, including the channeling of credit in such a manner as to preserve and increase our economic strength, and to give priority to development, agriculture and industry.
Another aspect of the project is the great smelter at Tema. For the smelter company, VALCO, by paying for the power generated at Akosombo, will do much to repay the great investment in the hydroelectric scheme. A large sum of money will be invested in this smelter, and we have guaranteed it against expropriation for the first thirty years of its operation. I do not think that overseas firms need entertain any fear in this respect. When talking about the Volta River, I also wish to mention the fact that with the assistance of the Government of the Soviet Union, we are surveying the power potential at Bui, and with the help of the Government of Czechoslovakia, we are investigating the possibilities of generating power from other rivers in the Western Region. Investigations are also being carried out into the possibilities of developing our mineral resources throughout the country.
We are embarking on the Volta River Project at a time when I am certain that the Government can maintain the necessary political and economic stability to ensure the success of the project. However, I am very conscious of the difficult and dangerous situation which exists in the world as a whole, and it is for that reason that the Government of Ghana has genuinely followed a policy of independence and non-alignment. I have said again and again, that this does not mean a neutral attitude to our relations with the rest of the world. What it means is that, we shall maintain the courage of our convictions and shall judge every political problem on its merits, and adopt whatever policy or measure we believe will do most, to safeguard our own independence and further our national interest. In the past, all our economic links were with the countries of the west. It is natural, and in keeping with our policy of independence and non-alignment, to create new links with other countries such as Russia, China and those in Eastern Europe.
The fact that we have established these new relations and our insistence on unity in Africa, have aroused much comment in some western countries, and our policy of non-alignment has been questioned. In deciding which is the best way to organise the political and economic life of our country, we shall continue to study what is done in other countries and try to profit by their experience. We can, however, only successfully use the experience of other countries, if we do this with due regard to our own indigenous political and economic institutions and our way of life. We must adopt a socialist method of achieving our agricultural and industrial expansion, but this does not mean that we shall blindly follow the methods of socialism adopted in other places.
As an example of our desire to profit by the best experience available in the west and in the east, I hope that the World Bank will accept my invitation to send to Accra a resident financial expert who can consult with us in regard to our international financial transactions. This however, does not mean that the World Bank will dictate our financial policy, any more than our socialist policy will be dictated by any particular socialist country. Non-alignment means that we seek advice and help from all, but direction or dictation from none. We, and we alone, are the masters of our fate and destiny. Any objective and impartial examination of our record and our policies will show that we have not departed from our non- alignment policy. And why should we? We have no desire to become part of the cold war, or to create conditions to imperil our hard-won independence. We welcome close working relations with the west and east, so long as our national sovereignty is fully safeguarded.
My views on pan-Africanism are well known. On the eve of independence, I declared to the world that, the independence of Ghana was meaningless, unless it was linked up with the total liberation of Africa. The number of countries that have become independent in Africa since then shows how right our policy has been. The burning desire of the African peoples all over the continent for human rights, for dignity and for independence, has never been so manifest as in the past few years. We shall continue to wage a relentless war against colonialism and neo-colonialism in Africa, and we shall not rest until every inch of African territory is free and Africa is united.
These are the goals which we seek. We hope that visitors from other parts of the world will come and see for themselves what we are trying to achieve in our country. Nineteen sixty-one brought many distinguished visitors to Ghana, including several Heads of State and Heads of Government.
It is true to say that all these distinguished leaders were impressed with what they saw in our country, and with the warmth of the welcome extended to them. It has therefore been a great surprise to me that the image of Ghana in certain countries abroad has been so badly and deliberately distorted and misrepresented by a section of the Press in those countries. Writers, journalists, statesmen, scholars, radio, and television representatives will always be welcome in Ghana.
All that we ask is that they should report honestly and accurately, and avoid sensationalism, ill-founded speculation or deliberate distortion which can do such great harm to relations between their countries and our own. I wonder sometimes whether the Press as a whole fully appreciates its enormous responsibility in the age of fear and suspicion, an age in which we all live from day to day in Peril of atomic annihilation. The power of the press to do good is immense, but its power to arouse the worse emotions in man is even greater. To a special degree, we in Ghana have been conscious of this power to choose between good and evil. And now, as we enter into the New Year, l wish to call upon you all to rededicate yourselves to the services of Ghana and the cause of African unity.
For Christians, Christmas is of profound significance and with them, and with people of all other religious beliefs and creeds, l join in the appeal for peace on earth, goodwill and friendship among the nations of the world. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and happiness in the coming year.