NATIONAL YOUTH AUTHORITY STATEMENT AHEAD OF AFRICA YOUTH DAY CELEBRATION, NOVEMBER 1
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for honouring our invitation to our first press conference of the National Youth Authority under the Akufo-Addo government.
We are here because something is happening across the African continent which we as a country need to appreciate in order to understand the local context of our challenges.
The African Union has dedicated the next half a century to youth development. From 2013 to 2063, the Union is urging member states to put a premium on youth development and empowerment.
And to keep this objective firmly in the minds of its people, the AU has designated every November 1 as the African Youth Day.
These engagements, plans and policies of the AU may sound far-off diplomatic discussions. It may even sound dull to the Ghanaian ear. But the realities in Ghana justify the direction of the AU and must justify and arouse our interest in committing to the direction set out by the AU.
About 57% of Ghanaians are under 25 years old. Imagine this, that out of every 10 citizens you meet at least five must be under 25 years. The rest are shared among age groups from 26 to 65 years.
The is great alarm in this single statistic because it means that if we lose the opportunity to empower this 57%, Ghana is the same as a paralyzed stroke patient.
The NYA feels the need to drum this into the minds of all leaders in every facet of our society to prioritize youth development - from business leaders, pastors and church workers, imams, headmasters, political leaders and civil society.
We are living with a demographic whose neglect is dangerous and whose prosperity is crucial. It is not an Akufo-Addo demographic, it is not an NPP demographic, it is a Ghanaian demographic requiring the impassioned contribution from all those who lead.
The route which Ghana has agreed with the AU to take in order to extract the full potential of the youth is entrepreneurship, education and skills development, health as well as rights, governance and democracy.
The place of entrepreneurship as the path of the youth is now obvious to us as a country. The government's plan to create jobs is a private sector plan and a private sector plan is an entrepreneurship plan. There is $100m with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) waiting for any ordinary youth with extraordinary motivation to access help.
This plan can by emulated by religious organisations and corporate Ghana - create funds and mentoring opportunities for the youth to do business.
It is on this note that we urge youths causing disturbances and public tension at Youth Employment Agency offices, School Feeding and District offices to read the game instead of invading the pitch.
Seize the moment instead of seizing office keys and unlock their potential instead of locking padlocks.
Vigilance at the polls must not translate into vigilantism in power. There is enough room for democratic engagement to discourage all aggression.
Get a business plan and build a business path, it is time to translate political energies to entrepreneurial drives. The government is ready to support you and every other Ghanaian in your endeavours.
This November 1, the Africa Youth Day is on the theme ' harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth'.
To mark the occasion, regional secretariats will organise youth parliament sessions and activities meant to drive home a sense of communal responsibilities like clean-up exercises.
The theme calls us to salute the efforts of persons and programs seeking to achieve this goal.
We, the NYA, salute every young Ghanaian who has set up a business, who is polishing himself, who is working his sock off to realize a dream.
We salute entrepreneurs still soldiering on patiently confident of a big break.
We salute those into encouraging good governance and democracy and in this path, we salute the Church of Pentecost for establishing the Political Chamber to train youth to appreciate the processes of governance through programs like its Youth Parliament.
We salute those professionals helping to achieve the AU pillar of improving health and well-being.
And to the more than 424,000 accessing free education, to those 57% under 25 years, know and understand that the future is yours.