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Think tanks must design innovative solutions for Africa’s unemployment

By: Godwill Arthur-Mensah

THE Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has underscored the need for think tanks in Africa to increase awareness, engage decision-makers and design innovative solutions on the effective strategies to harness resources to improve the lots of the people.

He entreated them to expand outreach to policy actors and provide research-based evidence data to governments, the private sector and civil society organisations for sound decision making.

“For instance, in every country think tanks are leading inclusive growth and transformation strategies, fiscal and financial sector policy, institutional reforms and effective ways to improve public sector management,” he stated.

Mr Ofori-Atta said this at the opening of the Fifth Africa Think Tanks Summit held in Accra last Thursday on the theme: “Tackling Africa’s Youth Unemployment Challenge: Innovative Solutions from the Think Tanks.”

He said building a prosperous nation required efficient and effective tapping of the national resources and domestic revenue mobilisation driven by the citizens for socio-economic development and transformation.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the majority of the youth migrating abroad did so because of the lack of decent jobs and social discontent, noting that the ACBF research revealed that Africa had 226 million youth as of 2015, a figure which is estimated to increase to 321 million in 2030.

The recent World Development Indicator statistics showed eight per cent unemployment rate in Africa, representing 38.1 million youth.

A 2016 survey by the Africa Development Jobs for Youth also indicated that while 12 million graduates enter the job market every year, only 3.1 million jobs were created annually, thus leaving vast numbers of the youth jobless.

Ghana’s economic performance
Mr Ofori-Atta told the gathering that Ghana had made significant strides in her macro-economy through prudent economic management, with the growth rate increasing from 3. 6 to 7.9 per cent.

The government has also reduced inflation rate from 15.4 to 10.6 per cent while the debt to the GDP ratio has dropped from 73 to 68. 3 per cent. The international reserves is also now at US$ 4.7 billion.

He said the government abolished nuisance taxes in the 2017 Budget aimed at creating an enabling environment for the private sector to expand and create jobs for the youth.

More so, he said, the government had plans of recruiting 100,000 tertiary graduates under the Nation’s Builders Corps this year to work at the various modules of the Youth Employment Authority on the short term basis. Their role will include revenue collection, teaching and sanitation, as well as work in the health and agriculture sectors.

The Finance Minister said the government’s flagship programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs and One-District, One-Factory would also create jobs for the youth across the nation.

Support
Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, the Executive Secretary of the ACBF, for his part, said the foundation had supported think tanks in Africa, which had enhanced their capacity to undertake policy research and advocacy.

He said the summit had become a good platform for think tanks to share knowledge and international best practices and propose solutions to Africa’s challenges geared towards ensuring socio-economic growth and transformation of the Continent.

Topics discussed at the summit included Think Tanks Contribution to the Promotion of Job Creation in Africa, The Role That Effective Leadership Can Play in Addressing Africa’s Youth Unemployment, Supporting the Private Sector to Create Jobs for Youth and the Development of Technical Skills Necessary for Sustainable Youth Employment.

The event
The event was organised by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), an agency of the Africa Union, supporting the capacity of think tanks across Africa, in order to contribute meaningfully to the creation of jobs on the continent.

The three-day event attracted about 200 representatives  of over 40 think tanks within and outside Africa, researchers, policy-makers and government officials to brainstorm and propose strategies and actionable recommendations to tackle youth unemployment within the context of the Africa’s vision as reflected in Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

The ACBF has been supporting over 41 think tanks from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania since 2014. —GNA/GB