Akufo-Addo pushes African leaders to tackle ‘huge problem’ of youth unemployment

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President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday urged leaders in Africa to formulate an air-tight plan to employ youth in their countries to prevent them from embarking on the dangerous journey of crossing the Mediterranean in search of greener pastures in Europe.

Addressing the G-20 Partnership for Africa Summit in Berlin, Germany, the President said an aggressive plan to end youth unemployment in African states is the only way to prevent brain drain and grow the continent.

“If we provide them the right environment in Africa, which enables them to enhance their skills, receive appropriate vocational training and have access to digital technology, they will make our continent great.

“If these youth are allowed to realise their full potential, Africa could see huge economic gains in the shortest possible time,” he admonished.

The President also called for value addition to raw materials produced on the continent to improve the economy. 

“If we, Africans, are to transform our stagnant, jobless economies, built on the export of raw materials and unrefined goods, to value-added economies that provide jobs, to build strong middle-class societies and lift the mass of our people out of dire poverty, then we must take our destinies into our own hands and assume responsibility for this,” he said.

He told the gathering, that Ghana was opened for business and urged the private sector to invest in the economy.

President Akufo-Addo noted that the reforms being undertaken in Ghana, in the management of the economy and in the governance structure, should entitle Ghana to be a suitable candidate for inclusion in the investment compacts that are the substantive outcomes of the G-20 Africa Partnership Summit conference.

The investment compacts, he added, “will enable us to maximise our possibilities of economic growth to deal with the huge problem of unemployment, the major social issue of our times in Africa”, stating that young people, busy with their lives and earning a living, would hardly be tools for wrecking havoc on society.

He further admonished African leaders to assume responsibility for the transformation of their economies and depart from the mindset of aid, dependency and charity and handouts.

Assuming responsibility, the President said, means that African leaders must, firstly, facilitate the building of a new, sustainable, African civilisation, where there is accountable governance, respect for the rule of law, individual liberties and human rights, and where the principles of democratic accountability are guaranteed.

This new, sustainable, African civilisation, he added, requires that African leaders “mobilise the immeasurable, vast resources of Africa to resolve Africa’s problems of poverty and development, and free ourselves from a mindset of aid, dependency, charity and handouts.”

Secondly, he urged Africans to initiate and implement policies that will encourage and empower the private sector to grow their respective economies within frameworks of macroeconomic stability.

“When the private sector flourishes and when our enterprises become competitive, not just on the continent, but also in the global marketplace, then can we create the thousands and thousands of jobs our teeming masses of unemployed youth crave,” the President said.

He continued, “Thirdly, we can no longer remain producers and exporters of raw materials. We must add value to our commodities, and create wealth for our peoples. Our dependence on raw materials has, in fact, increased in the past century. It is this dependence that feeds our dependence on foreign aid.”

President Akufo-Addo was unequivocal that Africa has the resources and means, material and human, with women and youth in the forefront, to transform the structures of its economies and be part of the international division of labour at the high end of the value.

This process of economic and industrial transformation, he stressed, has to go along with ensuring that the most basic elements of social justice are met – making quality basic education and healthcare accessible to all, to promote a culture of incentives and opportunities.

President Akufo-Addo thanked German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for putting the preoccupations of Africa’s development at the heart of Germany’s presidency of the G20, which has resulted in the convening of the conference of the G-20 Africa Partnership on the theme “Investing in a Common Future.”

He was hopeful that the conference will lead to the rapid development of the African continent, as well as address the many constraints to Africa’s development, domestic and external, including the vast amounts of illicit flow of capital out of the continent.

“Let this serve as the impetus for re-shaping our countries and charting a new path of growth and development in freedom, which will lift the long-suffering African masses out of poverty into the realms of prosperity and dignity. We can make life meaningful and worth living for our own people like others have done,” Akufo-Addo said.