President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with Ms Christine Evans Klock, UN Country Director after unveiling the Demography Roadmap for Harnessing Demographic Dividend in Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with Ms Christine Evans Klock, UN Country Director after unveiling the Demography Roadmap for Harnessing Demographic Dividend in Ghana.

Ghana to tap benefits of youthful population

Ghana has launched the African Union’s (AU’s) Demographic Dividend Roadmap aimed at harnessing the benefits of a youthful population.

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The launch demonstrates the domestication of the AU’s roadmap of achieving continental demographic dividends through investments in the youth.

The occasion was also used to launch a national strategic plan to harness demographic dividends in Ghana.

The government of Ghana, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched the road maps in Accra on Monday.

Both road maps contain priority activities in health and well-being, education and skills development, employment and entrepreneurship, rights, governance and youth empowerment.

The overall objective of the dividend road map is to match the country’s population growth with available resources, so that youth bugle becomes an asset to the country and not a problem.

Read also: Living conditions of Ghanaians not improved — IEA survey

President

Launching the road maps, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said in the last 20 years, the age structure of Ghana’s population had changed as a result of low birth and death rates, coupled with the decline in fertility rates.

He said it was for that reason that the government had developed a strategic road map for harnessing the demographic dividend in Ghana to take full advantage of the possibilities presented by the dividend.

“We shall perform this task within the context of four pillars. They are the economy, education, health and good governance,” he said.

On the economy, the President said the government had, over the last 11 months, worked to ensure the stability of the macro-economy, without which private sector growth would be inhibited.

“We have reduced inflation and interest rates and largely stabilised the cedi. We have reduced significantly the fiscal deficit by rationalising public sector expenditure and, at the same time, improving government revenue. Government, within this period, has controlled domestic borrowing so as not to crowd out the private sector from the financial markets. Our external debt commitments have been brought to more sustainable limits,” he said.

On education, President Akufo-Addo said the government was working to reduce gender gaps in school enrolment and completion at the secondary and tertiary levels and ensure that all school-going children attained a minimum of high school education through the free SHS policy.

He said the country was also focusing on a production-oriented approach to education, with emphasis on the knowledge and skills needed for economic development.

Additionally, he gave assurance of the intensification of reproductive health and educational campaigns, encouraging physical exercise and proper nutritional and dietary practices, healthy lifestyles, among other strategies.

Governance

On governance, the President promised the promotion and deepening of accountable governance, free of corruption, “whereby our people are governed in accordance with the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, the principles of democratic accountability and social justice”.

He said such a system included building strong institutions of state, such as a well-resourced Parliament and Judiciary, an efficient law enforcement agency and effective security forces that saw their responsibilities and allegiances to the wider public interest, not just to the conveniences of the government of the day.  

Minister of Planning

In his welcome remarks, the Minister of Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, said in harnessing Ghana’s demographic dividend, some preparatory works had been done.

He said in 2013, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) commissioned studies in four areas in the AU Roadmap on demographic dividend, comprising education, health, the economy and governance, identified as some pillars for the national delivery of demographic dividend.

He said the findings had been developed into a fact sheet that constituted the four priority areas of the national road map.

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For his part, the West and Central African Regional Director of the UNFPA, Mr Mabingue Ngom, admitted that the implementation would not be without challenges.

He was, however, optimistic that with the courage and political will demonstrated by Ghana in tackling its national challenges, the country would lead and make progress with the delivery of the AU’s agenda on demographic dividend.

He noted that while the success of the AU’s demographic dividend would mean economic prosperity at the national and continental levels, that would not be sustainable if the structure of the population was not altered through family planning.

The UNFPA Country Representative, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, expressed gratitude to President Akufo-Addo for facilitating the launch and demonstrating so much political will towards harnessing demographic dividend in Ghana.

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He assured the government of the UNFPA’s continued support in Ghana’s effort to harness demographic dividend.

Demographic dividend

Demographic dividend has been defined by the UNFPA as the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger and 65 and older).

 In other words, it is “a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents”.

 The UNFPA has emphasised that a country with both increasing numbers of young people and declining fertility has the potential to reap a demographic dividend.

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