We reproduce here the speech delivered by the Deputy CEO of the National Youth Authority at the Youth Policy Dialogue organised by YES-Ghana in Accra on the 18th of January 2018.
SPEECH DELIVERED BY DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH AUTHORITY ON THE OCCASION OF THE YOUTH DIALOGUE ORGANISED BY YES-GHANA
The Executive Director of YES-Ghana and his management team,
Distinguished panel members,
Invited youth groups,
It is not flattery to say I am happy to be a part of a dialogue on the review of our National Youth Policy. It is a flat admission that you cannot design a youth policy without critical stakeholders.
I am happy to join this dialogue for quite a simple reason that YES – Ghana through this dialogue will make our work at the NYA a little more easier.
The work YES has done is like an advance team of an elite force sent to scout the territory before the entire infantry move in for war. To use the term war ought not be viewed as an exaggeration of the threats the youth face. If unemployment is a national security issue it must conjure in our minds images of a country at the risk of implosion if the valves of job-creation are not opened.
So indeed, there is a war to be waged and won. A war against illiteracy, joblessness and a narrow-minded view that only fools die for their nation – dwindling levels of patriotism.
But the weapons of our warfare are obsolete. The vital instrument of policy is very blunt. Our National Youth Policy was unveiled in August 2010 which ought to be reviewed every five years.
So obviously, we have an underwhelming national youth policy that is outdated and overrun by severe and serious global changes not to talk of the technological speed train.
The current youth policy is a meagre 27-page document developed based on demographic data provided in the 2000 census. Imagine this. Youth population was then 33% of the population. Today it is clocking 60% of the population.
So in 2018, we are late on reviewing our strategy, our primary weapon of public policy. The more than two years delay may sound like no big deal. What has really changed in two years to warrant a review, someone may ask.
Well, one of the things the implementation plan wanted to address is a reduction in HIV/AIDS infections. Today, the Ghana AIDS Commission reports that there was an 18% rise in new HIV infections in 2016.
The NYA implementation plan was thinking of creating an SMS platform for labour market information dissemination in 2014. Today, websites like jobsinGhana, jobberman etc are far ahead in producing results than the Authority could have imagined.
If you lived in the 80’s, a two year un-updated document may not be so out of date. But in 2018, it can really be 2,000 years late because fast-paced technology is changing we way we work, interact, and changing the way we provide solutions to problems.
For example, the policy was developed between 2009 and 2010 without knowing that game-changing business solution, Mobile money, was just read to be launched. In 2010, people were still saying go to the internet. Now we say google it. By 2010, one of the youngest world leaders was the Prime minister of South Korea, a 47-year-old Kim Tae-ho. Today, one of the youngest world leaders in a democracy is not 39 years old Emmanuel Macron of France but rather 31 years old Sebastian Kurz from Austria. The legal age for president is at least 40 years.
Things and times have changed.
I am in the company of those who know that six out of every 10 Ghanaians are under 30 years old. Such an abundant supply of energy, creativity and passion ought to be Ghana’s human resource security against underdevelopment. But alas we know that rising un employment has made a large number, a national security threat.
Government needs to convert a significant portion of this 57% group into skilled potential for economic empowerment and growth. So here we are in 2018 needing a youth policy that is urgent, updated, inclusive, visionary and more importantly executable.
We need a youth policy that takes into consideration the AU’s Agenda 2063 plan to dedicate 50 years to empower African youth. We need a youth policy that is in sync with the SDGs of which 8 out of the 17 goals directly affect the youth.
We need a youth policy that makes a clear attempt to harness what is now known as the demographic dividend. A situation where you have a large group of young people who have less dependents and are also the largest working group among the demographic divides.
And we need a youth policy that captures the agitated desire of Ghana’s youth to see leadership leverage political will to solve the challenges of our time.
The NYA is happy to join in a conversation that allows us to hear fresh ideas and brilliant analysis as we plan a nationwide grassroot consultation towards the review of our policy.
We are in a make or break season as youth leaders and workers. Archaeologist study history by looking at inscriptions on rocks not sand. If you write your name on a rock, you are remembered. But if you write your name in sand, you are forgotten.
As youth leaders we can write our names in rocks of Ghana’s history books by our aggressive passion for youth empowerment or by our inaction write it in erasable sands of time.
I choose rocks and I believe you would stand with the NYA to choose rocks too.