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Ghana: Cutting youth unemployment is key

Isaac Kaledzi with AFP
February 9, 2018

President Nana Akufo-Addo has promised to create thousands of jobs. But it’s a daunting challenge and many young people remain skeptical over the government's ability to deliver.

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo

The unemployment situation in Ghana remains a major talking point, just over a year on from President Nana Akufo-Addo's election victory. Prior to his win, Akufo-Addo had promised to create thousands of new jobs – but so far it appears that little has changed.

According to the latest Ghana Labour Force Survey report published in 2016, more than 1.2 million Ghanaians are unemployed, hence Akufo-Addo's claim that the issue is one of the major challenges facing his administration – particularly when it comes to securing work for youth.

"The subject of job creation has to be at the top of my agenda. The number of young people who cannot find work is staggering and a threat to our national security," he said during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday. "I am determined to work to guarantee and secure the future of the young men and women of our country. Every major policy that my government has implemented in the past year has been about the youth."

Akufo-Addo also told MPs during the speech about plans to roll out a new program which will create 100,000 new jobs as part of the recently established Nation Builders Corps.

Youth remain skeptical

However recent graduates like Nii Lamptey remain skeptical over the government's plan: "Looking for a job is not easy, it's about whom you know," he told DW, "If you don't know anybody, the person will ask you to go. It's very tough."

Matias Abeeba believes the government still has a long way to go towards fulfilling its promise: "Every year they come, promising they will create a lot more jobs for the youth, but they come into power and don't do anything. This government promised they are coming to create jobs for us. A year later, no jobs have been created, a lot of youth are still unemployed. So we don't see any job creation by the government."

Lamptey told DW he thinks Akufo-Addo's overall performance so far has been good, but there is room for improvement on the jobs front: "He is doing his job well, but I think he should do more. I mean, he should establish more jobs in the country to calm down pressure."

Young African entrepreneurs at the 2016 Entrepreneurship Forum
Business analysts say young entrepreneurs are key to creating jobs and improving the economic climateImage: A. di Palma

A daunting task

Business analyst Ken Monah told DW that fixing the unemployment situation has become a daunting task due to not enough attention being paid to Ghana's private sector.

"You speak to a lot of these startup businesses and entrepreneurs and I think that the right environment has not been created yet. They still do not have the environment that will allow them to be able to expand and make the necessary profit that would allow them to employ people."

Monah believes that entrepreneurs and business owners hold the key to creating jobs and must be taken more seriously in the current economic climate.

'No reason' to seek help from IMF

Akufo-Addo also used his State of the Nation address to welcome Ghana's recent economic recovery, saying he did not intend to seek further help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"We are determined to put in place measures to ensure irreversibility and sustain macroeconomic stability, so that we will have no reason to seek again the assistance of that powerful global body," he said.

The current government inherited a struggling economy as a result of huge public sector deficits, rising inflation, a weakened currency and high unemployment.

Akufo-Addo's campaign subsequently focused strongly on ending rampant government spending and stabilizing the economic crisis.