Feature Article of Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Columnist: Kanduri, Moses
In recent years, the backing of entrepreneurship as a possible source of job creation, empowerment and economic dynamism in a rapidly globalizing world has attracted increasing policy and scholarly attention. However, despite this attention, there has been no systematic attempt to look at it from a youth angle. The tendency has been either to subsume the youth into the general adult population or ignore their efforts to forge a livelihood through enterprise activities. This has resulted in the lack of an adequate understanding of the potential benefits of youth entrepreneurship as a means of improving youth livelihoods.
In the case of Ghana, I am worried about the extent to which young people are expecting that the government has to do everything for them. It is true that the government of every country has to provide the best platform for its people to develop their potentials. The best platforms here I suppose does not mean spoon feed every Ghanaian young person. Growing up in Bawku and progressing in every stage of life, I have come to understand that in a nation’s development, the government has its part to play while the people have their part as well.
Young people in Ghana constitute a major human capital. This means that we should be able to translate this human capital in productive ventures for ourselves and for our country. Over the years young people have tried so hard to get various governments create employment opportunities. These expectations have not been met fully as of now and I doubt if it will be met until the youth of the country challenge themselves to develop their own skills using the available institutions and resources. Apart from the numerous raw materials that Ghana has been blessed with, I am confident that, the academical institutions as well as the banking system provide room for young people with innovative projects to achieve their goals. The question probably might be weather these institutions are decentralized so that those in the deprived areas can also benefit?
Importantly, the modernity of the world gives young people every indication that there is hope provide he or she is prepared to face the actualities, be innovative, determined, patient and be inspired by those who have made it in life by legitimate means. The world is advanced, with new technologies being developed in every twinkle of the eye yet young people are not taking advantage of the situation. In other parts of the world particularly Asia and Europe, young people are identifying their talents and using it to develop their economic strengths. Young entrepreneurs are springing up every day with newly developed multi-million businesses. In many cases, the ‘struggle stories of these young entrepreneurs are no different from that of young people in our part of the continent particularly blessed Ghana. However, the success stories of these young entrepreneurs differ from ours, which is if we have any success stories at all to tell. To majority of the Ghanaian young people, there are greater opportunities in Europe or Asia than that in Ghana. This is indeed a view I don’t share with my fellow young Ghanaians. At least if nothing at all, I am of the view that Ghanaians are on the better side to succeed considering the fact that, we are blessed with natural resources while those in Europe are struggling to mobilize such resources from our country to succeed in their countries.
The translation of talent into practicality however rest on the shoulders of young people considering the youthful energy being posed by the youth couple with the availability of resources. Let us not continue to demand governments intervention in solving all the unemployment issues but rather let us challenge government to provide us with the necessary platforms, protections, tools and security though comprehensive policies.
Considering my challenge to Ghanaian youth outlined above, I think that the Ghana government has a big role to play. Particularly in providing the best platform to young people in a guided document that does not only protect young Ghanaians but provide a fair level playing field –thus to aid them compete with the foreign business developers or entrepreneurs. I believe that Ghana is currently lacking explicit policies on youth. There is urgent need to design and adopt comprehensive national youth policies that indicate the directions Ghana as country intends giving to the development of its young people. Significantly, such policies should be properly integrated with key macro and sectoral policies in order to avoid treating youth people and entrepreneurship as an isolated activity. I again think that there is very little research on the qualities and particular needs of youth who want to become self-employed in Ghana. There is currently a scarcity of empirical data on the informal sector, and on the participation of youth in the sector and the extent to which the existing policy and institutional framework impacts on youth entrepreneurship.
I have always indicated that, the time for young people to take up the affairs of the world, the African continent and Ghana particularly will never come until the young people are able to build a solid economic rock for themselves. Upon this rock shall the youth stick their feet confidently and take up the fight for youth liberation. The challenge is on and young people need to live up to it. The time is here when young people should be teachers and not students to be taught, should be prepared to put in our time and efforts to development our innovations and not wait to be given what we will wait long for. Let us forget the partisan ideologies and focus on the productive ways to develop our potentials. Political parties will come and go, but our individual legacies that will remain for the generations to come after us – our children- will be questioned if it is a poor one.
My best quotes from John F. Kennedy “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country”.
Putting it in the contest of African and Ghanaian youth, “And so, my fellow youth: ask not what the Government (political institution) can do for you – ask what you can do to .develop yourself and your county”
Global Youth Activist & Pan-Africanist (Ghanaian student in NY)
International Policy Studies Student