The 69th Annual New Year School and Conference, organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, College of Humanities, University of Ghana, has ended in Accra.
The event spanned January 15-January 19, and recorded an unprecedented number of over 320 participants – which is the highest ever over the past decade – and ended with a communiqué.
A high unemployment rate hampers economic development, and is seen as a threat to national security. It is against this backdrop that the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, organised its 69th Annual New Year School and Conference under the theme ‘Job-Creation for Accelerated National Development: The role of the Private Sector’.
The conference started on Monday 15th January 2018 with an opening ceremony chaired by the Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Ghana, while the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana presented the welcome address.
The Vice-Chancellor stressed the need to enhance an entrepreneurial spirit among the youth to move them from social dependence to self-sufficiency.
The Acting Provost of the College of Education urged policymakers to promote development-oriented policies which support productive activities. The keynote speaker, Sir Sam Jonah, called for strong government support in creating the requisite environment for national capitalism, so that Ghanaian entrepreneurs can deliver growth to support sustainable development. The school was formally opened by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.
The theme for the New Year School and Conference was further divided into eight sub-themes as follows:
- Creating an enabling business environment for private sector development
- Developing and supporting innovative entrepreneurship
- Private sector participation in local governance for job creation
- Enhancing labour productivity through skills development for industry
- Attracting investment into the agricultural value chain: the role of the private sector
- Accelerated industrial development for job creation
- Innovative financial services for business and SMEs development
- E-business and job creation
At the end of the New Year School, a collaborative effort by Ministers of State, captains of industry, various union leaders and participants from all walks of life resulted in the following recommendations:
As a way of ensuring Ghanaian products are competitive domestically and globally, it is recommended that government – through the Ghana Standards Authority and other regulatory agencies – strictly enforce international standards through local associations for the production of goods and services. Government should use its purchasing power to ensure compliance.
There should be a policy that mandates all state agencies to purchase made in Ghana products.
In ensuring that we attract private investments into the agricultural value chain, government through the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Health and Education should strengthen the policy and make it compulsory for government institutions to purchase produce from local farmers.
Government should enforce the Land Use and Special Planning Act (Act 925) through the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority to ensure that all lands are properly planned before permitting development on them. This should include the protection of lands earmarked for industrial parks.
The Bank of Ghana should outline a clear policy that will facilitate a reduction in the cost of doing business, by ensuring that interest rates charged by banks are not overly-higher than the Bank of Ghana Monetary Policy Rate. There should be transparency in the determination of interest rates by commercial banks
Government should intensify the campaign to change the negative mindset of Ghanaians toward local products in order to boost demand for locally produced products and reduce imports. The action plan should include specific steps by government to provide subsidies for local businesses to make their products competitive
Government, through the Special Development Initiativesk should establish an Agricultural Development Fund in the various authorities. This fund should be used to develop appropriate infrastructure to support cottage industries that will use local raw materials and employ the youth in their localities.
In order to engender an entrepreneurial culture among the youth, there is a need for them to be exposed to international best practices. In particular, the Ministry of Education should promote visits to industrial sites (both domestic and international); and have mentorship and entrepreneurship competitions in the educational curriculum, particularly at the basic level
The government should expedite action on bringing all its skills training centres, such as NVTI and ICCES among others, under the Ministry of Education as provided in the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Act (Act 718, 2006). A clear deadline by which COTVET can begin to regulate all government Skills Training Centres should be established and followed
The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and all such bodies should as a matter of urgency collaborate with and support tertiary institutions to train sector-specific human resources for the country’s emerging industries.
There is an urgent need for government and tertiary institutions to act in tackling the skills shortage by adopting a more proactive approach to developing skills of the future workforce and graduates, in areas such as critical thinking and creativity, to give them an edge over machines and computers
Productive partnerships should be established between government and the private sector to pursue government’s role as a facilitator more seriously and strategically. In particular, the Local Government Ministry should strengthen Public Private Partnerships to create jobs at the local level.
Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies should encourage the participation of professionals and local entrepreneurs in the crafting of development plans by co-opting these individuals into the various sub committees of the assemblies.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry should organise regionally-based technology fairs and exhibitions annually, to attract local and foreign investors and encourage innovative projects or inventions from local entrepreneurs
Government, through the Ministry of Education and GETFUND, should resource technical/vocational institutions in order to equip the youth with employable skills
The Ministry of Communications should develop and expand specific ICT training modules for local and ‘emerging local entrepreneurs’ in order to strengthen, empower and accelerate private sector participation in e-business