Launched in 2016, Bolt – Ghana’s leading ride-hailing company – has taken less than five years to dominate the country’s mobility sector with the perfect blend of efficiency and innovation. For a company run by a team of young, skilled and ambitious visionaries, Bolt’s growth in Ghana and the larger West African sub-region is quite commendable.
With an average age of 26 years, Bolt’s young team is an example of the exceptional talent and ability of Ghana’s youth to contribute to the economy when given opportunity.
Interestingly, as the company provides opportunities for youths in its internal team, its service also provides earning opportunities for young Ghanaians. This allows them to enjoy the flexibility of driving on Bolt while earning supplemental income. This conscious advocacy for youth empowerment aims at contributing to Ghana’s socio-economic growth, considering its youthful population and potential.
As cited in a report by the World Bank, although there is a growing youthful population that offers a strategic workforce that can be harnessed for socio-economic growth, Ghana is faced with 12% youth unemployment and more than 50% underemployment, both higher than overall unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite major investments made by government, the challenge will intensify if job opportunities remain limited; and as such, the challenge requires an all-round, deliberate and consistent response.
Therefore, what Bolt offers in its response is an opportunity for hardworking Ghanaians to create something tangible for themselves. With the flexibility to be their own boss, without commitment to strict working hours, young Ghanaians have the freedom to retain their main employment and supplement their income as a driver on the Bolt platform.
Gideon Anokye, a young Ghanaian graphic designer who is also a Bolt driver, won a car in the 2021 Bolt Drivers’ League contest. He talked about how driving on Bolt has strengthened his entrepreneurial drive and given him a chance to augment his earnings as a young professional. Azumah, another driver, uses his proceeds from driving on Bolt to support his family and plans to work hard to invest in more cars and own a fleet.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg, highlighting the many lives Bolt is impacting. While some, like Gideon Anokye, occupy a full-time job and operate in their spare time, others drive on Bolt as their main source of income. What they share is an opportunity that they took advantage of to earn more sustainable income.
By empowering the youth with sustainable opportunities, the country’s growth becomes paramount in the drive for long-term socio-economic advancement. Government is committed to ensuring decent and productive work for young people, made apparent by establishment of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) to tackle youth employment and contribute to national and global development goals.
The service sector has potential for job creation and income generation for the youth and innovation, which has led to the rise of the gig economy. A 2020 International Labour Organisation (ILO) report on tackling employment in Africa suggests that the continent is likely to see rapid growth in the gig economy – which is essentially a labour market made up of freelance or part-time jobs instead of full-time or fixed contracts jobs.
An excellent example of this is ride-hailing services, which beyond getting people from A to B provide more job opportunities for Ghanaians and contribute to the country’s GDP.
In Ghana, Bolt is one of the leaders driving this growth with its ride-hailing service and recently launched Bolt Food category – another innovative service from this young team.
This advances the position of Ghana’s gig economy and empowers young Ghanaians, which in the end contributes to boosting the local economy. It is established that the youth constitute the most productive component of a nation’s population, and the economic development of a country directly relates to the level of youth development in the economy. Given these pointers, the youth are regarded as an indispensable building block in planning for sustainable economic growth and development of any society.
Ghana’s tech industry continues to enhance productivity for young people while fostering economic growth. On numerous occasions, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has urged Ghanaian youth to fully leverage the technological innovations defining this era to unleash their full potential. There is a continuous need to tap into its resources to prepare for the future.
Bolt recognises this as a company, efficiently utilising technology to solve mobility and food delivery challenges. Earlier in 2021, Bolt unveilled a programme that encourages participation of young women in the technology industry. The Drive for Women in Technology (Drive4WITech) initiative was in recognition of International Women’s Day, and supported young women with internship opportunities at Bolt.
According to David Kotei Nikoi, Bolt Country Manager, by establishing the initiative Bolt ensures capacity building for young women and shows support to all the women who choose to challenge the old norms and create a more inclusive world through their career choices. The internship’s success and achievements of the organisation reflect its people and processes. The agility and fresh ideas inspired by their youth have redefined the mobility sector and seek to do the same in the food-delivery space.
As a corporate citizen of Ghana, Bolt is contributing to entrepreneurship and access to better earnings while solving mobility and food-delivery challenges in the country. However, more needs to be done by other stakeholders to supplement efforts at boosting the Ghanaian economy. If Ghana is to forestall irregular migration and retain the stellar talent of our youth to solve the country’s developmental problems, more opportunities must be created.