It saddens my heart when I hear of some motivational speakers and entrepreneurship gurus tauting our youth as 'Lazy folks' who do not want to work hard to earn ends meet. They usually come to enumerate a number of possible business ideas the youth can adopt to start up their own businesses rather than packaging good and well crafted CV's in search of non existing jobs.
The truth according to the labour experts is that there are limited job opportunities available to absorb our teaming youth especially the graduates and therefore recommend the need for them to think of starting their own small businesses of which they however see the youth as either unwilling to start small or as slumberers who do not want to work. Whereas some employers also classify our graduates as without the requisite employable skills.
However, without gainsaying the candid opinions of these experts, we want to opine that the youth of Ghana are very hardworking and entrepreneurial; always willing to take initiatives to alleviate themselves of their impoverished living conditions. However, due to lack of a conducive micro economic environment such as high lending rate and cumbersome loan requirements by banks, higher taxes, rising inflation rate, difficulty in registering new businesses, high utility bills, unfair competition from foreigners among other factors have made even the most entrepreneurial minded youth with feasible and executable business ideas unable to translate their ideas into reality but rather have to take to the street for jobs.
Those who do not have the requisite job requirements and "strong protocols" to get jobs end up either embarking on deadly voyages in search of greener pastures or visit the suicidal Galamsey Sites in search of Gold in deadly pits as rebels in the jungle. I was deeply heartbroken on my first visit to a Galamsey site to see thousands of Ghanaian young men and women walloping in pits, and crashing stones with the hope of getting scratches of gold. Some of them stays at these Galamsey sites for days and months all because that is the only choice they have to earn a living.
Go to our markets and see how our young men and women are suffering, carrying heavy loads as head potters and truck pushers. Some have no option but to venture into illegal businesses. They risk their lives in scorching sun without any guarantee of proper health care when the unfortunate happens.
It is against this backdrop that we at Advocacy For Youth Development (AfYD), are calling on the government as a matter of urgency to take a critical look at the situation of the teaming youth of Ghana and come out with clear cut policy interventions to set the stage for the youth to be economically independent. This will require a strong partnership between the government and the private sector.
This is because in recent times even China who were seen as the leading practitioners of Socialism are now heavily supporting their private sector with accessible credit facilities with flexible repayment plans because they have realize that the private sector is the engine to their economic growth; the same can be said about countries like Singapore, Japan, Dubai, Qatar etc.
We therefore want to once again intimate that the youth of Ghana should never be seen as lazy or not innovative but they rather need support from the government and civil society actors to adequately resource them to be economically independent in order for them to be active partners to national development.
Moreover, despite the fact that the youth need jobs particularly due to their umpteen hardships however, it is without any prevarication that their job needs will advertently not come from only the government but will rather come from a vibrant and well machinated private sector. There is therefore the need for a concerted effort between the government and the private sector sandwiched by a consultative involvement of youth.
Advocacy For Youth Development (AfYD) in our quest to advocate for the economic empowerment of the Youth, want to call on the government through the Economic Management Committee (EMC) headed by the Vice President to consider an accessible measures of giving loans and grants with flexible repayment plans to young people with executable business ideas, as well as reduce lending rate and difficulty in accessing loans in order for young people with no collateral facilities to gain the needed economic feet to start up their own businesses to augment the effort of the government to create jobs in the country. This is because even if the government is able to implement the much anticipated "One District, One factory" policy it can not absorb the number of unemployed youth in the country.
Ms Suzzy Emekor Gaglo
(Acting Executive Secretary)
Allswell Addoboye Anum
(Acting Vice President)
Alfred Obimpeh-Obipeh Tumawu
George K. Antwi Boasiako
Advocacy for Youth Development (AfYD)