Obama hails Ghana as an example to the rest of Africa
First black US President wins plaudits from MPs as he praises their country's stability and democracy
US President Barack Obama told Africans yesterday that Western aid must be matched by good governance and urged them to take greater responsibility for stamping out war, corruption and disease plaguing the continent.
President Obama delivered the message on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office in January as the first black US president. He chose stable, democratic Ghana because he believes it can serve as a model for the rest of Africa.
Fresh from a G8 summit where leaders agreed to spend $20bn to improve food security in poor countries, Mr Obama spoke of a "new moment of promise" but stressed that Africans must also take a leading role in sorting out their many problems.
"Development depends upon good governance," President Obama said in a speech to Ghana's parliament. "That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential... a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."
Mr Obama criticised corruption and rights abuses on the continent, warning that growth and development would be held back until such problems were tackled. He said America would not impose any system of government, but would increase help for those behaving responsibly.
The visit by the son of a Kenyan immigrant has enormous resonance for Africa. MPs chanted "Yes, we can" before he spoke, and the President closed with this, his old campaign slogan. The crowd's response was in contrast to the cordial but mostly chilly reception in Moscow earlier in the week.
"We like the positive signals that this visit is sending and will continue to send," said Ghana's President John Atta Mills, elected in a transparent election that contrasted with stereotypes of chaos, coups and corruption in Africa. "This encourages us also to sustain the gains that we have made in our democratic process." Reforms in the cocoa- and gold-producing country, which is to begin pumping oil next year, helped to bring unprecedented growth before the impact of the global financial crisis.
Ghanaians, many dressed in Obama T-shirts, took to the streets of Accra in hope of glimpsing the President and clustered around television sets in homes, bars and backyards. "The message he gave was covering the ways in we should change our lifestyles. When we do that we will prosper," said Joseph Aboagye, an engineer.
Yet despite the huge excitement and anticipation surrounding Mr Obama's first trip to sub-Saharan Africa as president, only relatively small crowds came out to meet him in Ghana's capital. The absence of any big public event outdoors, heavy security that blocked roads, and uncertainty over which routes he might take combined to keep large crowds away.
His main speech was delivered indoors, at a conference centre because of concerns over rain as well as fears it could cause a celebratory stampede, as a 1998 visit by President Bill Clinton nearly did. Then, a surging crowd toppled barricades at Independence Square after Mr Clinton's speech, prompting him to shout, "Back up! Back up!"
Have shock jocks gone too far after Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut?
Former Google exec says he has 100,000 emails showing how 'immoral' company avoids paying UK tax
British business: We need to stay in the European Union - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
World news in pictures
British father faces charges after confessing to slitting his two children's throats in Lyon flat
- 1 British business: We need to stay in the European Union - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
- 2 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 3 Sam Wallace: The second coming of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea will be a reunion that can only end in tears
- 4 David Cameron takes on the 'wreckers' in trial of strength over gay marriage Bill
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Negotiable: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Randstad Education is the market le...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Randstad Education London: A leading Further Educat...
£500 - £680 per day: Orgtel: Quantitative Risk Analyst, Front Office/Risk Bank...
£18000 - £25500 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...