The government has been asked to provide active support to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors to be able to create the needed jobs.
The Director of Research at the Institute for Fiscal Policy (IFS), Dr John Kwabena Kwakye, said looking at Ghana’s circumstances, the prudent measure to take was to develop a strong agricultural sector, because the country had vast arable land with huge productive potential.
The inability of the government to support the sector, he said, had resulted in an acute problem of unemployment in the country, particularly youth and graduate unemployment, which was capable of triggering social upheaval.
“The problem is serious enough to pose a potential time bomb. Economic growth does not match the labour force growth from population growth and graduates coming from schools,” he said at the GRAPHIC BUSINESS - Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra last Tuesday.
He spoke on growth, stability and jobs.
Causes of unemployment
Dr Kwakye said the concentration of growth has been on the low job creating capital intensive extractives and some automated service activities, while agriculture and manufacturing which have the high potential of creating jobs have been stagnating.
“There is a mismatch between the skills of graduates and available jobs. There are also limited opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship,” he said.
He said the government could promote entrepreneurship by supporting initiation of business ideas and reforming education curricula to focus attention on technical disciplines like mathematics and science.
“The Government must set up business incubators as an important mechanism to support growth-oriented entrepreneurs, forge a close relationship between industry and schools to better match skills and jobs and strengthen labour market information and monitoring systems to ensure regular flow of information on employment opportunities,” he said.
Dr Kwakye said development was a progressive, step-by-step process but not a one-time event.
“Therefore, countries follow different development paths depending on their individual resource endowment and relative comparative production advantage.”
“Some of the things needed to deliver acceptably high growth rates are policy initiatives to harness the productive potential of the economy. Such policies must be geared towards developing human and physical capital, and developing home-grown technology, to the extent possible, while also leveraging international technology,” he said.
He added that they were important tools for transforming the economy from a less productive agrarian one to a more productive industrial economy.
Transforming the economy
The National President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Professor Kwame Boasiako Omane-Antwi, who is also the Board Chairman of the Graphic Communications Group Ltd, in an interview, said Ghana needed to develop its own model of development to focus on reducing imports.
“Why do we allow imports, why do we just export all our raw materials without adding value to them when we know that we can have the advantage of manufacturing multiplier?” he asked.
He added that Ghana needed to come out with policies to kick-start economic transformation instead of relying on the government.