I am mourning my dad and I am touched by the many young people who have texted and called directly to express their condolences. What is worrying is that, many of these young guys are jobless, loitering on social media. We don’t have jobs for them, yet we describe them as future leaders.
If the future belongs to the youth, then they must be prepared for the future. Beyond education, one way of preparing the young ones is to be able to help them find jobs to do. But we cannot deal fully with youth unemployment by our attitude of national hatred of our own and love for foreigners. Let me write my mind on this and go back to mourn. After all, they stop to sneeze even when crying.
1. Unemployment continues to plague our country and it is decidedly clear that no government can fully tackle this challenge to the core alone. Indeed governments since 1992, governments have performed abysmally or failed to deal with this challenge frontally and effectively in a manner that improves the physical quality of life among the youth. What they have often reported as job creation, have always been severe cases of under-employment to partisan boot-lickers and propagandistic mini jobs meant to show off and tick the boxes in terms of employment generation.
2. But these modes of job creation aren’t what young people want. They are not what will make us develop. They only create a pretense that jobs have been created and hence no meaningful taxation can be taken from the under-employed for national development. It is the proper operationalization of the cliché of “creating an enabling environment for local and foreign businesses to thrive” that will confront the teaming unemployment among young people frontally.
3. Recently it’s been noted nationally that the mere mention of coups sends shivers down our spine as a people. No sane Ghanaian would support coups at our level of democratic progression. But we must not also pretend we are ignorant that all over Africa, supporters of coups are usually the unemployed. We don’t want coups and there is a certain unanimity or elite consensus on this. But we must also tackle the kind of unemployment in our country, that creates a state of praetorianism candidly, and without propaganda, as a proactive counter insurgency strategy.
4. How we do this, as indicated earlier, is to create the enabling environment for the private sector, both local and foreign, to thrive, expand and to absorb more young people in employment. But it does appear our excessive partisanship that makes us politically mad, stands in our way to achieve the full potential of the private sector’s role in generating employment that eases the burden of government and safeguard our peace.
5. We are filled with National Jealousy and Hatred For Indigenous Businesses in a manner that only points to our childish immaturity in our quest to fight the quagmires of poverty and underdevelopment among the Ghanaian people and the youth. Foreign Investors in Ghana are given tax Holidays ranging from 5 to 15 years from the start of operations. This is to afford the opportunity to recoup their investments before paying taxes. This is meant to also protect new companies into maturity and to outbid other countries in the sub-region in the fierce competition for FDI. In their state-assisted operations, they generate some employment for young people.
6. But we are always unsupportive of our own indigenous or local businesses entities. Governments, since the days of Rawlings, to date, have childishly harbored the fear that tax waivers and tax holidays to local businesses will make them strong in their operations and position them as financiers to opposition political parties. But they lose sight of the fact that, the local businesses when supported will also augment the efforts of their foreign counterparts in creating job openings that develops the youth and eases pressure on government.
7. It must bluntly be pointed out that every political party in Ghana, in the absence of a law on public funding of political parties, attract support from indigenous businesses and the smart business owners tend to support parties across the divide. So what’s the basis for the childish paranoia and national hatred for our own local business entrepreneurs?
8. We pretend to celebrate Katanka but in reality, the guy is suffering and that’s why the kinds of things he’s locally manufacturing, are being out-competed. He is however an employer of the youth and with more tax waivers, he may expand to employ more people. Samuel Afari has created the Safari Valley Resort that has employed some young people on the Akuapim Ridge. Why can’t he receive some tax waivers and more state assistance to enable him expand to pick up more young people in the area for jobs? Ibrahim Mahama has recently launched his local Dzata Cement which compares with all others. Why can’t he be given some tax waivers to enable him expand to employ more? There are many more local Ghanaian entrepreneurs who are striving to generate employment for the youth and yet continue to suffer national hatred, jealousy and envy. What is even more worrying is that, Government officials, and party echelons go to these guys to take money in the lead up to elections and yet look on while they suffocate as a way of denying the opposition, sources of financing. What anti-democratic tendency and national hypocrisy is this?
9. It’s about time we got serious as a nation in appreciating the fact that, employment generation requires real, properly thought-through and practical interventions that transcends propaganda and the politics of ticking box. We must begin to fully fashion out and implement deliberate interventions that enable both indigenous businesses and their foreign counterparts to fully thrive and largely expand to generate proper employment for the youth. For this, inter alia, is a potent counter insurgency strategy that will make the mention and thoughts of unorthodox means of government removal, non-receptive and laughable among the generality of the population, and in particular, the vibrant youth.
PAV Ansah Street
Suro Nipa House
By Professor Ransford Edward Van Gyampo