Ghana News Agency (Accra) – The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has launched the “Young Africa Works” project, which aims to create fulfilling and dignified jobs for over 30,000 Ghanaian youth.
An initiative of the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) and the MasterCard Foundation, the project will create 39,000 jobs over the next three years for young people in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and 70% of them will be women.
It will target graduate youth, out-of-school youth, school dropouts, and women-owned/led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
Speaking at the launch in Accra on the theme “Creating Dignified and Sustainable Work for Ghana’s Young Men and Women”, Mrs Akufo-Addo expressed her pleasure in seeing the launch of the initiative. It is aligned with President Akufo-Addo’s Ghana Beyond Aid agenda, she said.
Since his government assumed of office, she said, President Akufo-Addo has launched several initiatives including the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) and National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) to create a platform for training and work experience acquisition for young people. It has also provided integrated support, including funding, for start-ups and young businesses.
From skills acquisition to start-up … and beyond
Despite these initiatives by the government, Mrs Akufo-Addo said, youth unemployment persists, hovering around 13% by the end of 2019, as recorded by the International Labour Organization (ILO). This, she said, is “a situation which calls for strategic measures and policies that take into consideration youth development and integration”.
Youth unemployment has the potential to create grave social consequences and could lead to social exclusion and unrest, the First Lady said. The situation therefore calls for the private sector and other bodies to partner the government to support youth employment and entrepreneurship.
To this end, as part of the Rebecca Foundation’s women’s empowerment initiative Terema, the Rebecca Foundation has partnered with the NBSSI to train young women in various skills. Mrs Akufo-Addo used the occasion to present sewing machines to a batch of young women who recently completed their training.
She said the foundation will continue to train women and provide more of them with start-up kits and other equipment to launch their businesses.
She also called on traditional, religious and community leaders to rally behind the NBSSI/Mastercard Foundation initiative to enable the youth to step boldly into the new future, where their individual and collective contributions will transform Ghana.
The mark of dignity
Natalie Gabala, regional head of the MasterCard Foundation for West, Central and North Africa, said the project was launched to enable young women in particular to access dignified work by 2030.
Similarly, the tenets of the project offer work in the financial services, education and skills training, as well as digital and economic transformation.
Ishmael Ashitey, Greater Accra Regional Minister, said the initiative will go a long way by complementing the government’s efforts to create an enabling environment that will build the capacity of the youth, especially young women, to take on more active roles in Ghana’s future.
“It is in the light of this that I feel very excited to know that the Young Africa Works project will be implemented in all 16 regions of Ghana,” Ashitey said.
He said the government has designed a national youth policy to help shape the youth to face the challenges of the coming decade. This will provide quality education, entrepreneurship, job skills, creative skills and sports, as well as develop leadership.