President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has challenged the over 3000 unemployed youth enrolled by the National Youth Authority (NYA) to equip them with digital marketing and entrepreneurship skills not to disappoint the government, saying “it is time to create our Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.”
The training programme which was launched Thursday, February 8, 2018, is for persons between the ages of 15 and 35 with a minimum knowledge in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). They are drawn from both urban and rural areas across the country as well as those living with a disability.
The programme, according to the NYA, will equip participants with the requisite technology-driven entrepreneurial skills to use the internet, especially social media to market their products and services as well as start virtual offices in a bid to reduce unemployment in Ghana.
It is a collaboration between the NYA, the Accra Digital Centre, the Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre and Ecobank – the Pan African bank.
Speaking during the launch of the programme, President Akufo-Addo in a speech read on his behalf by the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo touted it as “an inclusive initiative.”
According to the President, “Ghana needs skills which are relevant to the job market and industry demands in order to break the cycle of unemployment and poverty which have become a challenge for us as a nation.”
“If we do not tackle the issue of unemployment with all the resources at our disposal the current situation will spiral out of control in some few years to come and this will be dangerous for our economic development and social cohesion,” he warned.
He thus urged the beneficiaries to stretch their imagination and embrace the challenge that every aspect of the change and innovation the government is rolling out will be anchored on, and driven by technology.
“Therefore, with the broad range of skills in ICT that you will be equipped with during the training period, aspire to become versatile so that you can effectively and efficiently fill many of the human resource gaps in the area of ICT which will be created as we develop,” admonished the President.
“Beneficiaries of this programme, do not disappoint government. You have to be committed to the process of skills acquisition. Government and the leadership of the National Youth Authority have invested a lot to organise this training programme and you have a responsibility to maximise the benefits you derive during and after the training programme. It is time to create our own Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and you have the talent and the support of Ghana to make this happen,” he added.
Technology is the way
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NYA, Emmanuel Asigri said Ghana has never seen a period where the majority of her population fall within the youthful bracket.
“I stressed on this demographic because it has serious and severe implication on where government places focus on what development questions must be asked,” he said.
He continued that as the agency mandated to manage the creative energies of young people “we have this challenge before us” and “we have identified one thing to deal with this challenge which is technology and I am happy that we have this programme launched today [Thursday, February 8, 2018] that will bring opportunities to the young people of this country.”
He said: “There is a saying that there is no shortcut to life. But technology has a way of shortening this proverb which has lived with us for decades. It cuts distance into seconds. It finishes tedious work in timely fashion. It cramps books into your pocket. It brings skills from Sussex from the United States not from the plane to Ghana but through internet cable into our homes.”
Urging the participants not to disappoint the government, by making good use of the opportunities presented them by the training programme, he declared that Ecobank – the Pan African bank – has pledged to give the trainees employment after going through the 12 weeks of training.
“This is the only shortcut young people have been blessed to take advantage of. So take this shortcut, use technology, use it responsibly, explore the opportunities and maximize your potential,” he stated.
The Communication Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful in her short remark stated that “we have all the building blocks that we need to create the digital pioneers of our age and I am delighted that you are among the first crop of those who are taking advantage of the training programme to equip you with employable skills.”
She expressed hope that the initiative will “just be the beginning” and other corporate organisations will also take advantage of the talents to be churned out to scale up the “digitalisation of our country and move us into the digital age.”
The government, she said, has resolved to make Ghana a beacon of the West African sub-region in the digital age as it plans to set up more IT hubs across the country.