The Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, has said 38.2% of Ghanaians are between 15-35 years and this presents immense potential to accelerate the country’s development if this vital segment is empowered.
He added that the country risks losing the opportunity to reap its demographic dividend if more targeted investments are not made towards empowering the youth.
He said failure to make the right investments now means the country would lose out on the demographic dividend. The implications will be catastrophic for Ghana, citing Middle East countries that experienced civil unrest due to high youth unemployment levels in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour announced this at the launch of the review report of Ghana’s 10-year implementation of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPD10) and 30-year Implementation of the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD30) on Thursday in Accra,
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative, Dr Wilfred Ochan, called for accelerated action from stakeholders in Ghana to harness the country’s demographic dividend.
Speaking on the implementation of population priorities over the past decade, he praised the inclusive process used in preparing the report.
Dr Orchan, however, noted that while progress has been made in several areas, the pace remains slow in some key issues that are crucial for realising Ghana’s full potential such as youth unemployment, maternal mortality and child marriages.
He emphasised that focused interventions are needed to address persistent inequalities between regions and social groups.
He also stressed the need to consider the impacts of pressing global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic on population well-being.
Dr Orchan highlighted the African Union’s past prominence in harnessing demographic dividends through youth investment but lamented that high-level political support and focus on this agenda now seem to be waning due to other competing priorities.
“We need to revive momentum for scaled-up investments and policy actions targeting youth and this important issue,” he stated.
He urged stakeholders to move beyond just documentation and catalyze transformative implementation of the report’s recommendations.
The report captured Ghana’s progress over the past 10 and 30 years in aligning its population dynamics with efforts to reduce poverty and inequality. Areas reviewed included health, education, gender equality, governance and mobility.
While gains were registered on many fronts, the report noted that more efforts are needed to address issues like high child and maternal mortality, youth unemployment, gender gaps and uneven access to social services across rural and urban areas.
Richard Aniagyei, ISD