‘Let your programmes be guided by sound policies’

The Asantehene, seated, in a handshake with John Kuma, right, together with Awal Mohammed, left

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has said programmes aimed at ‘industrialising the economy’ and those toward employment-creation must be supported by clear and deliberate policies to make them feasible and sustainable.

While lauding some of the initiatives commenced by government toward addressing youth unemployment in particular, the Asantehene noted that efforts must be made to put in place rules that will reduce importation of products that could stifle local startup businesses.

He noted that the increasing importation of goods into the country has been the cause of many businesses’ collapse. In view of this, he insisted it requires that programmes to grow local startup businesses should be executed with certain measures in place to ensure their long-term success.

The Asantehene was speaking at the visit of Business Development Minister Ibrahim Awal Mohammed and Chief Executive of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), John Kumah, to the Manhyia Palace, and said to ensure the economy’s growth focus must not only be on one sector.

He said, for instance, that agriculture must be keenly considered with emphasis on value addition in order to create jobs while generating income for the country.

The courtesy call of the minister was to brief the Asantehene on the ministry’s workings and efforts to deepen entrepreneurship culture among Ghanaians, while also seeking his support in implementation of the NEIP.

Otumfuo advised that technical support for beneficiaries of the programme must at all times be strengthened with effective monitoring also in place, to ensure monies channeled into the programme are leading to the desired outcome.

Speaking in an interview after the visit, the Minister for Business Development, Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, explained that the ministry among others has been tasked to deepen entrepreneurship culture among Ghanaians, particularly the youth.

He observed that out of the over-120,000 youth who graduate from universities yearly, less than 10,000 get jobs in the public sector – with the majority being jobless.

He said: “So, we want to encourage young people to know that they can be job-owners instead of being job-seekers. That is why the president launched the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), under which US$10million will be used to support youth entrepreneurship”.

According to the minister, so far about 7,000 youth have been trained in various business skills and now require financial assistance to access cheap loans for growing their businesses.

It was disclosed that disbursement of the financial support to NEIP beneficiaries is expected to commence in June.

“The aim is to make young people know they can be business owners and that there is hope for them in Ghana,” stated.

He observed that traditional authorities play a vital role in ensuring business growth – with the provision of land among others.

The minister said by the end of the year at least 500 youth will have access to startup capital in the form of loans to start their businesses. This is expected to continue in subsequent years.

The CEO of NEIP, Mr. John Kumah, said government plans to give out about GH¢20million, this year, to the programme beneficiaries.

He also disclosed that government has partnered some investors from India to commence the ‘Youth in Industry’ programme by the end of the year, which includes plans to set up a company for assembling tractors and cranes, among others, in the Ashanti Region.

He said this will be in addition to other skill development and businesses which will be introduced with time to serve as a means of employment to the youth.