Since the University of Ghana’s inception in 1948, the Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC) has been its flagship programme – attracting people from all walks of life to deliberate on topical issues of national and international interest. The third in a series of the Youth School, as part of activities for the 74th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC), has successfully ended with a call for young people to seek accurate information on how economies are driven and be aligned accordingly.
This third edition of the Annual Youth School, Conference and Exhibitions (AYSCE) was held at the ISSER Conference Centre of the University of Ghana on Thursday January 19, 2023 with over 300 youth, entrepreneurs and business executives participating. This school and conference was under the theme ‘Positioning the African market for sustainable economic development through the African Continental Free Trade Area’.
Professor Olivia A. Kwapong, the Dean-School of Continuing and Distance Education, gave the welcome address while Professor Felix Ankomah Asante, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development; and the College Secretary from the College of Education, Joseph Oduro Nkansah, equally made statements. Dr. Fareed Arthur, National Coordinator of the National Coordinating Office of AfCFTA, took a turn to address the youth on AfCFTA. The vision-bearer of the Youth School – also a director of the Youth School and member of the ANYSC corporate advisory and technical team, Mr. Jack Andrews Dotsey, delivered his statement on the mission and vision of the Youth School, Conference and Exhibitions. Dr. Simon-Peter Kafui Aheto, also a director and technical committee member, helped the youth to appreciate the Youth School’s expectations of the New Year 2023.
The Keynote address delivered by Nana Owusu-Achaw – CEO and Founder of Kings Innovations, looked at opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship: zeroing-in on how the youth can understand and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Nana Owusu-Achaw admonished young people to seek accurate information about how economies are driven and be aligned accordingly; take our French education seriously, as Ghana is bordered by francophone neighbours; and learn to volunteer while remembering opportunities available in Africa are best found in Africa and not elsewhere.
The youth were cautioned to stop holding investments in their pockets by way of investing huge sums into the purchase of mobile phones which could serve as their capital investment; and dare not to be programmed into being lazy but rather seek information intentionally in order not to be fed with information they do not desire. The keynote speaker questioned why Ghana is using only 10% of its arable lands, and encouraged the youth to start thinking of business ideas, partnership and collaboration to support the AfCFTA one-market agenda as they seek information purposively and then becoming information consumers.
A panel session highlighting how youth business can be supported and the preparations Ghanaian Youth can put in place to access an integrated African market saw the likes of Mr. Seth Twum Akwaboah, CEO-Association of Ghana Industries; Ms. Christiana Adu, GRASAG President-University of Ghana; and Mrs. Diana Owusu Antwi, Senior Research Development Officer, Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Services-University of Ghana, prepared the youth – while the Ministry of Finance provided education on government’s ‘YouStart Ghana Initiative’.
The AGI-CEO, in his remarks, was of the opinion that the youth can start a business and also export their products no matter their age – as patrons of goods do not consider if products are made by young people before they buy. There are opportunities that young people can take advantage of. Do not always look at the big businesses, and do not discount the value you get from the small businesses while not compromising standards, he added. “The right way is knowing what the standards and requirements are and making sure you meet them. A lot of businesses have succeeded because they belong to a wider network. You do not walk alone as a business. If you do so, you don’t create opportunities for yourself. Working alone in a corner will see your business die. Be part of an association and enjoy the benefits.”
Mrs. Owusu Antwi urged the youth to avoid public disclosure of their inventions, as they might lose the right to protect them. She said they could enter joint ventures with persons who have the financial muscle to help them with their inventions after securing intellectual protection rights. “Use a non-disclosure agreement prior to sharing sensitive information about your intellectual property with potential investors or partners,” she said. The Agric Investment Lead of the Ghana CARES initiative at the Ministry of Finance, Stephen Odarteyfio, said the YouStart initiative was set up by government to empower young people between the ages of 18 and 40 years with technical and financial support to create jobs for the youth. He urged the youth to be daring and take advantage of such initiatives.
President of the Graduate Student Association (GRASAG) Ms. Adu advised students to put their leisure time to good use by acquiring knowledge and skills which will help them venture into business.
A Mentorship Clinic as well as a Leadership and Development breakaway session trained the youth on self-leadership, moral vision and transformative leadership among other topics. Accra Senior High School choir, putting up a splendid performance, performed several melodious, indigenous Ghanaian songs to the admiration of all. The very interesting third edition of the AYSCE was moderated by the author of the book ‘Prepare for the Future of Work’.
To this end, the four-day ANYSC started from Monday, January 16–19, 2023 had its theme on AfCFTA; sub-themes for breakout groups, discussions; and deliberations provided options for Ghana and other African countries and stakeholders on the continent’s financial, educational, governance, security, women in trade and digital technology preparedness for AfCFTA.
This school and conference was under the auspices of the School of Continuing and Distance Education, College of Education, University of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ministries of Finance, Education, Communications and Digitisation, Trade and Industry, and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.