Renowned strategic management leader Dr. Ishmael Yamson has underscored the country’s need to remove obstacles to nurturing creativity and innovation – such as poor institutions, limited access to relevant quality education, lack of basic infrastructure, poor policy coordination and poor governance, saying such obstacles have driven many African countries into high levels of debt and pervasive poverty.
According to him, Africa contributes less than two percent of global innovation – hence the continent’s slow growth and high poverty rates. He underscored the need to encourage new ideas-generation from the country’s educational institutions and private sector, as well as the importance of injecting technology into its governance architecture to fight corruption.
He said this while delivering a lecture on the topic ‘Empowering the youth for the future’ in commemorating the 5th anniversary celebration of Academic City University College at the college’s campus in Accra. The event brought together varied participants including corporate, academia, students and youth empowerment enthusiasts.
He noted that although empowering the youth with creativity and innovation involves complex processes, it is the only way to mainstream and engage them to become useful citizens.
“To nurture innovation and creativity among the youth, there is first and foremost a need for policy to mainstream them by building their capacity to become relevant in the fourth industrial revolution,” he explained.
Dr. Yamson added that education and skill development must have a focused bias on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and there must be definite efforts to foster creativity and innovation among the youth.
To enable them face future challenges and sustain their successes, Dr. Yamson – who was the guest speaker of the event – mentioned awareness of leadership, constant innovation and adaptation, collective intelligence, emotional intelligence and soft skills and empathy among others as some basic skills the youth need to be equipped with, stressing the importance of adding ethical leadership.
Regarding the skill of leadership-awareness, he said organisations and institutions must develop leaders who have the capacity to consciously search for what and when the next change is likely to occur and think through its implications; and added that such leaders should be able to anticipate and become aware of potential risk so they can adapt quickly and respond. “Once the challenges have been identified, leaders must act immediately to respond,” he also noted.
Furthermore, he noted that future leaders must not only demonstrate flexibility in their thinking and be competent in arguing and in persuading others, they must also be emotionally intelligent and possess soft skills. “A leader must have the skill to persuade, influence and convince others to follow him or her, and must possess credibly and purpose,” he said – adding that Innovation is the solution for weathering uncertainty and ensuring sustainability.
Drawing a symbiotic relationship between innovation and creativity, he explained that while creativity is centred on the generation of a unique idea, thought and knowledge which unleashes potential, innovation on the other hand have to turn that creative idea into a viable solution, saying: “Innovation cannot happen without creativity, and only with creative ideas can one truly innovate and implement solutions that work”.
In discussing the youth in Ghana, he noted that it is important to understand who they are and what characteristics they have – worryingly describing them as the disillusioned generation of persons between ages 15 and 45, most of whom are unemployed due to poor governance and bad leadership. “There has been traumatic growth in graduate unemployment in Ghana, with the numbers growing every year in recent years; and the drop-out rate in post-senior high school is even more frightening,” he added.
Professor Fred McBagonluri, President and Provost of Academic City University College, in his opening remarks noted that the commemoration is evidence of the college’s commitment and determination to continue its mission of educating future-ready leaders who can innovatively solve complex problems within an ethical, entrepreneurial and collaborative environment; and added that the topic ‘Empowering the youth for the future’ resonates with its vision of preparing the next generation to lead with purpose, resiliency and creativity.
According to him, the college has taken the lead in transforming tertiary education in Ghana and beyond by embracing a STEM-focused curriculum, cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit among its students while equipping and engaging the next generation with tools they need to address complex challenges and drive innovation across various sectors.
Highlighting some remarkable achievements of the college within the past 5 years, he revealed that in terms of academic performance it currently ranks 15th within the West African sub-region; and added that its innovative approach to education is evident in its first graduates making waves globally.
“Regarding international opportunities for our graduates in Virginia Tech, we have got one of them into a straight PhD programme there. We are also at Oregon State University in the United States, Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda and many more institutions across the globe,” he noted, and furthermore said the college has a start-up in its workshop that is being incubated.