The Youth as Partners in Creating the Ghana We Want

Author  Radia Heniquin Issahaku
Published  December 5, 2022

Distinguished invited guests…

Press men and women,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a singular honor for me to be part of this event and to be given the opportunity to represent my generation. This means a lot to me as a person and to so many other young men and women.

In many ways, Ghana has done well for herself.

We are a country born out of sacrifice, passion, and patriotism.

We have been blessed with abundant natural and human resources.

We have an enviable track record when it comes to democracy, especially when we are compared to our peers in the sub-region.

However, despite all these advantages and blessings, we face complex challenges that hold us back especially in the absence of critical and deliberate generational ideas.

I fear for the future of the youth of this country. Our troubles start with an educational system in need of reform, that better prepares us to join the world of work. How do we build the Ghana we want when we cannot translate the natural talents of young people into a formidable workforce to drive economic transformation?

While youth unemployment remains a major cause of emigration from Ghana, the country also has one of the highest emigration rates of skilled professionals according to a 2015 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to European Union estimates, 33.8% of emigrants from Ghana living in OECD countries possess medium skills while 27.6% have high skills.

It is tragic that we are forced to leave our own country when we should be building the future we want together.

Today brings a renewed hope that we can.

Today sets a new vision for our nation that will transform the lives of future generations. With the launch of the Ghana Compact, I see a Ghana with a development plan that prioritizes accountable, inclusive, and transparent governance, a Ghana that provides quality education and leadership for the youth, a country that has values and principles with young people leading the change.

What would I like to see change for this to happen? I’d like a revolution. And when I talk about a revolution, I do not mean a coup, I mean a cultural shift, so that more young people are in positions to lead this country.

By definition of Ghana’s Youth Policy, a young person is between the ages of 15 to 35. We are considered mature enough to start voting at age 18, but the average age of our House parliamentarians is 49. How can this be inclusive when we are more than 35% percent of the population?

All the ‘stabilization’ plans for revamping the economy have only intensified the hopelessness of the youth. The severe hardships placed on Ghanaians — especially young people — is a threat to the security of our dear country.

I say we have had enough!!!

Enough of rising unemployment rates.

Enough of unsustainable job creation and opportunities.

Enough of bias and underrepresentation at the decision-making table.

Ghana can no longer continue along this path if we want to survive and maintain our record as an example to the rest of Africa. It is very crucial to pause at this moment to reflect, re-strategize and re-commit to building the Ghana we want.

It is imperative that young voices are heard and given the opportunity to contribute to and share fresh ideas to address the challenges we face, ideas that will positively change lives.

To build the Ghana we want, young people should be seen as key players and partners in economic transformation and development. The era of overlooking young people in the design, implementation and monitoring of programs should be long gone.

The United Nations has recognized that young people are major human resources for development and key agents for social change, economic growth, and technological innovation. There is the need to make deliberate and conscious efforts towards strengthening youth participation and engagement to attain the Ghana we want.

Recognizing that young people have assets — not simply viewing them as lacking capacity or being deprived by circumstances — is very vital to attaining sustained development.

Ghana will continue to be the enviable nation within African countries if we prioritize the inclusion of youth in all issues of economic and national development.

In the unity and progress of our nation rests the respect and welfare of young people.

Thank you.

 

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Radia Heniquin Issahaku

Member of the Northern Regional Youth Network

Radia Heniquin Issahaku

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