By Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana)
The 2019 Budget presented on 15th November 2018 by the Minister of Finance to the Ghanaian Parliament was christened “A Stronger Economy for Jobs and Prosperity”. The theme resonates strongly with many young people as jobs represent a central issue of interest to the youth.
In 2019, the government intends to consolidate its flagship programmes and expedite their implementation as part of measures to expand the economy and create more decent jobs, especially, for the youth. Table 1 captures allocations for multi-sectoral special initiatives that promotes prosperity among the youth.
Table 1. Some special initiatives with elements of youth development.
|Free Senior High School||1,682,641,924|
|Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP)||1,320,000,000|
|One District One Factory(1D1F)||95,000,000|
|Zongo Development Fund||106,875,000|
|Planting for Food and Jobs||380,000,000|
|Nations Builders Corps (NABCo)||850,000,000|
|National Entrepreneurial Innovation Programme (NEIP)||47,500,000|
Source: The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019
It is on this premise that the Youth Empowerment Synergy provides an analysis of the youth-responsiveness of the budget. An analysis of the budget suggests three broad classifications which captures the various youth-related issues, namely; skills, training and education; jobs; and support services.
What Does the Budget Offer the Youth?
The budget contains several activities that seek to provide the much-needed skills, education and jobs for the youth. This is in line with the SDG 4 (quality education) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). The major sectors providing jobs are agriculture & agribusiness, in areas such as horticulture, aquaculture, farming and ICT. On jobs, various government initiatives such as Nation Builders Corps, Planting for Food and Jobs, Aquaculture for Food and Jobs, the government has identified ICT as another useful pathway of providing jobs for the youth. For example, it is expected that in 2019:
“The Ministry [of Communication] through the Accra Digital Centre trained 476 youth in basic IT training in Digital Marketing that provided 600 ancillary jobs. In 2019, additional digital centres will be established in Takoradi and Kumasi.” (The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019: 152)
The expansion into two other cities will improve the access of more young people to such training facilities. This could potentially provide employability skills to those who take advantage of these facilities.
On skills development, the budget states:
“The Ministry [of Inner City and Zongo Development], in collaboration with the Ministry of Business Development and other local partners, will continue with interventions aimed at enhancing the earning capacity of residents in inner-city communities by training 2,000 youth in vocational skills, entrepreneurship and business development…(The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019: 161)”.
Considering the changing employment landscape, the provision of training in technical/vocational skills and business development, builds up a youth cohort that is entrepreneurial. With these skills, these empowered individuals will create goods and services that meet the needs of the public, while providing employment for others.
With reference to support services, other state institutions such as the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), with support from the Rural Enterprise Programme (REP), trained various Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) and also assisted with access to institutional credit. This effort is expected to be sustained in 2019;
“…NBSSI will complete the construction of 67 Business Resources Centres (BRCs) in various districts. In addition, an in-house Business Incubator is to be established, and 94 Business Advisory Centres (BACs) upgraded” (The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019: 123).
Some young entrepreneurs have expressed business support from the state as one critical contribution of the government. With these Business Resource Centres, budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can have access to technical assistance at the local level.
Some Missing Links and Areas of Improvement
The commentary dedicated to youth development under the section designated to the Ministry of Youth and Sports focused extensively on past achievements. In this item, for instance, no specific intervention for 2019 was given:
“In order to substantially increase the number of youth who have relevant entrepreneurship skills in line with SDG 4, the National Youth Authority, facilitated the training of 3,000 youth to acquire skills in online and digital marketing and entrepreneurship across the country. Each trainee was provided with a tablet as a start-up tool” (The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019: 169).
Vague commitments and non-measurable activities hamper efforts in tracking and assessing the real impact made, as far as youth development is concerned, by the government.
There are instances of duplication of efforts. The Ministry of Special Initiatives is running various initiatives that target the public (albeit with specific focus on the youth) on thematic areas such as agriculture, vocational skills training and digital skills training. For example:
“To complement Government Planting for Food and Jobs Programme, the National Youth Authority (NYA) established “Youth Livelihood Farms”, in which 120-acre maize farm was cultivated on a pilot basis in the Upper West Region which will be replicated in all the other regions. In addition, a pilot poultry project was started in the Afienya Youth Leadership and Skills Training Institute with about 2,000 layers. In 2019, the NYA will facilitate the formation of more youth farmer groups under the Youth Livelihood Farms to contribute to solving the youth unemployment problem” (The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019: 169).
This duplication could be reduced, if not avoided, since the target group, scope of work and thematic focus are not different. The NYA could focus on other sectors whose benefits have not yet been fully explored by the Special Initiatives Ministry such as Tourism, Arts and Culture, Fashion and Beauty industries. These industries usually have the youth as its highest patrons as well as huge employment opportunities. The amalgamation of these two factors presents a fine opportunity for the youth to be employed in sectors that excite them.
The budget intends to provide employment to ‘unemployed youth’. This homogenous group created needs to be subject to critical analysis as unemployed youth represents a group with different levels of education. For instance:
“…the Aquaculture Development programme aims at increasing domestic fish production and creating additional job opportunities for unemployed youth. To this end, about 1,671 fish farms out of a target of 1,800 were provided with extension services to enhance the productive capacity of aquaculture operators” (The Budget Statement and Economic Policy, 2019: 115).
This will help spread out initiatives that provide for the needs of youth based on their levels of education, geographic circumstance, physical state etc.
On critical sectors like health and housing, the budget was not responsive to the peculiar needs of young people. Issues in health such as mental health and sexual and reproductive health did not receive any special mention nor allocation. Similarly, on housing, there was no effort to provide affordable housing facilities to young professionals, in the face of soaring rents and general increase in the cost of living. Significant focus and allocation to these issues would contribute to the well-being of young people, who are a significant cohort in the active working population of the country.
With the current budget’s focus on job creation and human development, particularly for the youth, we propose that youth development initiatives in future budgets should be sourced from the National Youth Policy to ensure that allocation is made to health, energy, housing and environment as it pertains to the youth. We also recommend tourism, arts and culture, fashion and beauty industries to be promoted as alternative pathways of employment.
It is commendable that there is a significant attention to youth needs in Ministries such as Communications, Business Development, Special Initiatives and Inner City and Zongo Development in complementing the effort of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. As youth is only a demographic descriptor with needs across all sectors, it is important to raise the responsiveness of other ministries to youth needs in future budgets. In this regard,the People’s National Youth Policy provides essential pointers to key sectors for youth-inclusive investments for national development. A budget, within all sectors, being youth responsive will reflect true investment in building self-dependent and responsible youth for Ghana’s current and future benefit.
Obaa Akua Konadu
Policy & Advocacy Manager