#Article (Archive)

Sub-regional youth conference on employment ends in Ghana

Jul 27, 2012, 1:39 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh in Accra

A two-day sub-regional conference on youth employment under the theme ‘youth and employment - discussing the implementation of strategic policy frameworks on youth and employment in West Africa’ ended on Thursday at the M Plaza Hotel in Accra, Ghana.

The conference is organised by the Foundation for Future Leaders International (FFLI) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Delivering the official keynote address on behalf of the Gambian-born H.E. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-secretary general, executive secretary UNECA, Joseph Atta-Mensah, UNECA director office of strategic planning and programme management, said African economies were growing well before the recession, despite that it has not really translated into employment generation.

“We have found a way out of addressing the youth unemployment and harness the potential contribution of youth,” he said.

He lamented that as a result of unemployment over the years many African youths ventured into crossing deserts to move to Europe.

He spoke on the need to invest more in youth and to mainstream youth policies while calling for more youth participation for their voices to be heard.“You have rights to participate in the democratic process,” he added.

African youths, he said, bear the brunt of conflicts in the continent thus calling for improved governance and engagement of youth.

He said the private sector needs the support of governments in the sub-region in a form of incentives and environment conducive to create employment and growth.

“The development of our youth is critical as they represent the future of our continent,” he said.

He reaffirmed his office’s commitment to partnering with stakeholders like FFLI while stressing the importance of active youth engagement at local, national and regional levels.

Speaking earlier, Emmanuel Dei-Tumi, executive president of Foundation for Future Leader’s International, welcomed participants to Ghana.

According to him, the objective of the sub-regional consultative meeting is to provide a strategic platform for the intellectual engagement of all youth development stakeholders including the youth themselves, entrepreneurs from the private sector, experts, government officials, academia and policymakers to brainstorm on providing a strategy for addressing youth unemployment in West Africa.

He quoted the founding father of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah as saying: “…On our youth depends the future of Africa and the continent’s total liberation and unity.” 

“No nation can develop when it ignores the plight of any group that forms its majority.”

He recalled that apart from the rising level of poverty and corruption, unemployment also contributed to the Arab spring.

He commended ECA for partnering with his organisation in hosting the youth dialogue forum.

He noted that young people needs to acquire skills that would enable them compete in the labour market.

For his part, James Jonah, former finance minister of Sierra Leone, said that youth unemployment is a subject not only peculiar to Africa but an international issue.

“We have seen the issue of addressing unemployment can be a subject of winning or losing an election,” he said.

He intimated that governments in the sub-region should look at their tax systems to provide more incentives for the private sectors.

He challenged African governments to work towards addressing the issue of unemployment in the continent.

Professor Florence Abena Dolphyne of Ghana, who chaired the opening ceremony on Wednesday, said  youth unemployment has become a burning issue for governments all over the world.

Participants at the conference came from Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Benin, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast as well as officials from ECA.