A study by a team of Ghanaian economists has identified Agro-processing and Tourism as sectors that could potentially address Ghana’s unemployment and enhance the competitiveness and productivity of small and medium-sized firms.
The study, which is titled, “Industries Without Smokestacks (IWOSS) in Africa- Ghana Country Case Study”, was done in collaboration with the Brookings Institution and disseminated by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.
In an opening remark before the presentation on Wednesday in Accra, the Director of ISSER and Chairman for the occasion, Professor Peter Quartey, said the study was important and timely because, if followed, could resolve the high unemployment rate in Ghana.
Prof. Quartey indicated that tertiary institutions in Ghana were producing thousands of graduates and, most of whom were unable to secure jobs, becoming ready tools for criminal activities and that was threatening.
He, therefore, insisted that industrialization was key to resolving the unemployment situation in the country, lamenting that many once vibrant industries in Ghana had been converted into warehouses and places for church activities.
Giving the background to the research, the Secretary-General of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), Professor Ernest Aryeetey, said the research was driven by the need to create employment without following the path pursued by other industrialized nations.
In that regard, Prof. Aryeetey said it would be appropriate to go for industrial activities that did not only promote employment but also promoted environmentally sound practices.
“Could we find African activities that behaved like manufacturing which would provide jobs and decent living? We, therefore, set out to find out the activities that will do the trick,” he hinted.
In a presentation, Dr. Mrs. Priscilla Twumasi Baffour explained that “Industries Without Smokestacks’ are emerging sectors that share similar characteristics as manufacturing and are beginning to play a role similar to manufacturing in some developing countries.”
Dr. Mrs. Baffour indicated that IWOSS was an industry that was tradable, demonstrated the capacity for technological change and productivity growth, showed some evidence of the scale and or the cost benefits and efficiency of having a cluster of companies, services and industries in one location.
She said the research identified Agro-industry and Tourism as areas that could be exploited to achieve the intended increase in employment, as well as safeguard the environment.
Dr. Mrs. Baffour said the Agro-processing Industry was dominated by many micro-enterprises involved in value-addition along the agricultural value-chain in the areas of horticultural products, vegetables, roots and tubers and palm oil mainly for the domestic market.
“Ghana has several natural and cultural heritage (historical forts and castles), national parks, a beautiful coastline, unique arts, cultural traditions, as well as lifestyles that can be a source of attraction to the international community,” she said in reference to the Tourism sector.
She indicated that the prospects of both sectors in Ghana as IWOSS were high with the two sectors found to have high employment generation potential and high demand for low to moderate skills, a feature that was consistent with the characteristics of the Ghanaian labour market.
“Attention is, however, required to address the existing skill gap, especially in terms of systems, technical and problem-solving skills,” she said.
Dr. Mrs. Baffour observed that although technologies used by Agro-processing and Tourism sectors in the country were mostly labour-intensive, “some complementary digitalization will be required to enhance their relevance to the changing nature of work globally.”
The team of Economists which authored the report comprised Professor Ernest Aryeetey of Africa Research Universities Alliance (ARUA); Dr. Priscilla Twumasi Baffour and Dr. Ebo Turkson, both of the Department of Economics, University of Ghana.