Naah-Yerreh Writes: Curbing youth unemployment; an African nightmare – A timely wake up call

Did you know that with 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 (the youth bracket), Africa has the youngest population anywhere in the world? (UN)

For a poor continent with the highest birthrate, one could foretell the menace of employment hitting sooner than later. Human resource has been indispensable in the growth of any nation and one would expect Africa to find innovative ways to put the buzzing energies of its youth to good use. Instead, what we see is an increased unemployment rate which has led countless young lives to be lost in the Mediterranean sea due to mass migration in search of greener pastures.

He who has no solution loses his right to criticize therefore this post is about sharing innovative ways to increase employment.

Relevant Education

A trained air hostess lamented to me her inability to get her dream job after hunting for more than a year. I asked her how many locally operated airlines were in Ghana?, how many aircrafts have they?, how many air hostesses do they need per plane?. So a hundred people obtained training to be air hostesses but we have a single local airline. That’s a lot of unemployed air hostesses. Same is exemplified in other areas of study where qualified applicants far exceeds the spots available especially in the midst of all the austerity measures imposed by the IMF.

Recently, series of demonstrations and picketing by trained yet unposted nurses rocked the nation. Ghana is finally training more nurses than it currently needs or can employ. It is laudable that government has placed a cap on the number of new entrants into our nursing training schools to reduce the number of unemployed government trained nurses.

Government must be strategic in it’s approach to ending unemployment. To tackle the unemployment issues our education must be relevant to the day and age in which we live. Graduants leaving our training institutions must be employable, not just that but their education must be in a discipline that’s in high demand.

Technology, The now-The future

Technology is the way forward. The next world war if there would be any, would be virtual. Russian state hackers vrs American NSA tech geeks, whoever’s able to take over the launch of the others nuclear weapons wins. Ask yourself where would Ghana stand during such a time?.

America, Chinese, Russia have created millions of jobs by enabling a fertile ground for tech startups. The likes of google, Facebook, Instagram, Weibo, Alibaba, Amazon which are multi billion ventures were all built from a tiny computer. Today they employ millions of people.

Government should structure our education system in order to prioritize Information Communication and Technology education in order to churn out innovative graduates having a job ready skill set and the confidence of government support for their innovations.

Revolutionalize Agriculture

A larger percentage of Africans are farmers, small subsistence farmers whose only tools are the Machete and hoe. Till date, Cocoa still is the leading export product of Ghana. Our industrial revolution seems to be going at a snail’s pace and our low end products, much of which never make it to the International market flooded with cheap goods from China, Thailand, Vietnam. The bare truth is we are late as a nation and continent to an already saturated market.

Why not play to our strength. Africa and for that matter Ghana has the vast percentage of its lands being arable. Government needs to provide and project the leadership and confidence to mechanize our farming system. The equipments needed to indulge in large scale mechanized farming are expensive, the poor farmers up in the north cannot afford even school fees how much more a tractor costing hundreds of Ghana cedis.

China, a country from which Ghana borrows massively is the worlds largest consumer of Soybeans yet produces just 10% of its annual need locally. A trade war with USA, a country which supplies over 60% of China’s soybeans means a gap in supply to the demand of Chinese soybean consumers.

Luckily for Ghana, Soybeans grow well in northern Ghana providing a much needed opportunity for government and farmers to invest heavily in soy cultivation for export to China and other Asian countries. This could mean a much-needed foreign exchange to boost our ailing cedi, employment for our brothers and sisters up north, effectively stifling the internal migration of young and able northerners down south in search of greener pastures and finally income for our hardworking farmers.

Education and awareness campaigns, Equipments, Access to roads, cash crop seedlings are but a few things government can do to make agriculture attractive again to the youth.

Ghana started growing oil palm before Malaysia ever thought of it. Now Malaysia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil. It didn’t just happen, they put in the necessary support and incentives and institutionalized palm oil farming. Now they have a ministry dedicated to oil palm welfare. Ghana has done same with our cocoa but its high time we emulated same with other cash crops such as Cashew, Shea, Coconut, Mango among others. This will bring in steady income for farmers and reduce the unemployment issues.

Youth in Politics

Just like every kingdom needs a succession plan, so must African states. The political sphere in Africa is one made up primarily of old people who are out of touch with a younger citizenry, making decisions which stifle the progress of the general population to satisfy their personal interests.

Involving more youth in politics and governance means getting an input into policy making from a different perspective, one influenced by the reality those on the ground are facing.

Involving more youth in politics means more experienced future leaders. This will also provide some much needed employment for young graduates in order to make something out of life.

The fight against unemployment is not one that must be addressed with temporary, less productive measures to boost popularity. Strategically placed policies and support systems for addressing the root cause is the way to go.


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