Think-tanks must design innovative solutions for Africa’s unemployment

Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, has underscored the need for think-tanks in Africa to increase awareness, engage decision-makers and design innovative solutions on effective strategies of harnessing resources to improve the peoples’ lot.

He entreated them to expand outreach to policy actors and provide research-based evidence data to governments, the private sector and civil society organisations for sound decision-making.

‘‘For instance, in every country think-tanks are leading inclusive growth and transformation strategies, fiscal and financial sector policy, institutional reforms and effective ways to improve public sector management,’’ Mr. Ofori-Atta stated.

Mr. Ofori-Atta said this at the opening of the Fifth Africa Think Tanks Summit held in Accra, on the theme ‘Tackling Africa’s Youth Unemployment Challenge: Innovative Solutions from the Think-Tanks’.

The event was organised by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), an agency of the Africa Union supporting the capacity of think-tanks across Africa, in order to contribute meaningfully to the creation of jobs on the continent.

The three-day event attracted about 200 representatives of over 40 think-tanks within and outside Africa, researchers, policymakers and government officials to brainstorm and propose strategies and actionable recommendations to tackle youth unemployment within the context of Africa’s vision as reflected in Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

The ACBF has been supporting over 41 think-tanks from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania since 2014

Mr. Ofori-Atta said building a prosperous nation requires efficient and effective tapping of the national resources and domestic revenue mobilisation driven by the citizens for socio-economic development and transformation

He said the majority of youth migrating abroad occurrs due to lack of decent jobs and social discontent – noting that the ACBF research revealed that Africa had 226 million youth as of 2015, which is estimated to increase to 321 million in 2030.

The recent World Development Indicator statistics showed an eight percent unemployment rate in Africa, representing 38.1 million youth.

A 2016 survey by the Africa Development Jobs for Youth also indicated that while 12 million graduates enter the job market every year, only 3.1 million jobs are created annually; therefore, leaving vast numbers of the youth jobless.

Mr. Ofori-Atta told the gathering that Ghana has made significant strides in its macro-economy through prudent economic management, with the growth rate increasing from 3. 6 to 7.9 per-cent, the inflationary rate reducing from 15.4 to 10.6 pe cent and the debt to GDP ratio reduced from 73 to 68.3 percent, as well as increasing the international reserves to US$4.7billion and achieving a positive primary balance for the first time in many years.

He said government abolished nuisance taxes in the 2017 Budget, aimed at creating an enabling environment for the private sector to expand and create jobs for the youth.

More so, he said, government has plans of recruiting 100,000 tertiary graduates under the Nation’s Builders Corps this year, to work at the various modules of the Youth Employment Authority on the short-term basis: including revenue collection, teaching and sanitation, as well as work in the health and agriculture sectors.

The Finance Minister said government’s flagship programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs and One-District, One-Factory will also create jobs for youth across the nation.

Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the ACBF, for his part said the Foundation has supported think-tanks in Africa, which has enhanced its capacity to undertake policy research and advocacy.

He said the summit has become a good platform for think-tanks to share knowledge and international best practices and propose solutions to Africa’s challenges geared toward ensuring the continent’s socio-economic growth and transformation.

Topics that will be discussed at the summit include: Think-Tanks’ Contribution to the Promotion of Job Creation in Africa; The Role That Effective Leadership Can Play in Addressing Africa’s Youth Unemployment; Supporting the Private Sector to Create Jobs for Youth; and the Development of Technical Skills Necessary for Sustainable Youth Employment.