President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Monday launched, in Accra, the African Union (AU) Roadmap on Demographic Dividend and Strategic Roadmap for empowering the youth and tapping their expertise to develop Ghana’s economy.
On January 30, 2017 the continental programme, dubbed; ‘‘Harness Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth’’ was unveiled as the theme for 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
President Akufo-Addo said the most effective way of ensuring prosperity in Ghana and on the African Continent was through value addition to the natural resources as well as transforming and diversifying the national economy.
The President was joined by Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, to unveil the plaque for the programme, which has the same theme: ‘‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’’.
Demographic dividend describes a process of accelerated economic growth that begins with changes in the age structure of the population of a country as it moves from high to low birth rates.
President Akufo-Addo said industrial development of the economy could be achieved through modernised agriculture and educated workforce. ‘‘The countries that have done well, even without natural resources, are the countries that have invested in education and skills training.
‘‘What the evidence from history and the experience of many countries have shown is that it is not natural resources that build nations.
‘‘It is people who build nations. It is not gold, cocoa, diamonds, timber or oil that is going to build Ghana. If it was, it would have done so already. It is Ghanaians, especially the youth of today, who are going to build Ghana,’’ he said.
The President said government would reduce gender gaps in school enrolment and completion at secondary and tertiary levels to ensure all school-going-children attained a minimum of high school education through the Free Senior High School Policy, thereby deepening the Demographic dividend.
‘‘Government will focus on production-oriented approach to education, knowledge and skill development, which will lead to economic development and improve the quality of science, mathematics, engineering and technology education at all levels as the foundation for growing the technological capacity and high-paying jobs,’’ he said.
President Akufo-Addo said a healthy population was at the heart of the effort to transform the nation and would, therefore, ensure judicious utilisation of the nation’s natural resources to benefit all.
He said the current demographic transition in Ghana lent support to the clear onset of a demographic dividend that must be tapped. He said over the past 50 years, the age structure of the country’s population had changed as a result of low births and deaths rates coupled with the decline in fertility rate.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana now had a broad-based population pyramid with the shrinking proportion of children.
He said the changes in the population dynamics had necessitated the need to implement certain key policies and programmes that would enable the country to reap the demographic dividend and ensure progress and prosperity.
For this reason, he said, the government had developed strategic roadmap for harnessing the demographic dividend in Ghana, which would be performed within the context of four pillars, namely economy, education, health and governance.
He said over the last 11 months, the government had worked to ensure the stability of the macro economy, without which private sector growth would be inhibited.
He said prudent economic management had resulted in the reduction of the inflationary rate and stabilised the local currency, as well as reducing the fiscal deficit through rationalisation of the public sector expenditure and increasing government revenue.
The President said government had also strengthened the private sector by shifting the focus of the Economic Policy from taxation to incentivising production.
He said the tax reforms were designed to make the country the investment destination of choice in Africa and mentioned the e-business registration, paperless ports clearance, digital addressing, mobile interoperability, and the national identification systems.
He said those programmes were designed to formalise the Ghanaian economy, reduce the cost of doing business and ensure financial inclusion.
President Akufo-Addo said his government would pursue an employment-centred economic growth strategy that would ensure sustained employment creation, especially for the growing numbers of unemployed youth, and invest in quality, skill-specific human resource development in both secondary and tertiary institutions.
He said the government would place entrepreneurship skills development at the centre of job creation through periodic skills audits to help orient educational investment for inclusive accelerated growth.
Government would direct growth strategies towards employment-intensive sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing to reflect existing rural-urban dichotomies in gainful employment generation.
It would also bridge the north-south divide in economic opportunities relative to the ‘‘Planting for Food and Jobs,’’ ’’One District, One Factory,’’ and ‘‘One Village, One Dam’’ initiatives.
The President gave the assurance that the government would uphold the principles of transparency, democracy, good governance, anti-corruption, the rule of law, equity and accessibility, human rights for all and a multi-sectoral approach to development.
Ghana’s fertility rate has declined from 6.4 per cent in the 1980s to 4.2 in 2014, with the population below 15 years reducing from 46.9 per cent in 1970 to 38.3 in 2010.
The economically active population (15-64 years) has grown from 49.6 per cent in 1970 to 57 in 2010. The dependence ratio has also declined from 102 per cent to 76 per cent while the median age ratio has increased from 16.6 per cent to 20.7 per cent.