Ghana's President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has launched the Ghana Strategic Roadmap for harnessing demographic dividends in Accra.
The roadmap, which is Ghana's local component of the African Union's Demographic Dividend Roadmap, essentially means, the country has made a pact with both present and future generations to leave them a better legacy than was inherited from the country's forebears.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana's population had changed over the last 20 years, mainly due to low birth and death rates, coupled with the decline in fertility rates.
This, he said, had led to a "broad-based population pyramid", with a shrinking proportion of children aged between 0 and 14, vis-a-vis an increasing proportion of the economically active population, i.e. those aged 15 to 64 years, with an increase in proportion of those aged 65 and above.
These dynamics, he explained, had resulted in a decreasing dependency ratio, as the proportion of the economically dependent population, particularly those below 15 years, was decreasing.
"This has necessitated the implementation of key policies and programmes. We recognize that we need to commit ourselves to what must be done in order to reap the benefits of development, progress and prosperity," he said.
It is for this reason, President Akufo-Addo said, that his government had developed a Strategic Roadmap for Harnessing Demographic Dividends in Ghana, to take full advantage of the possibilities presented by the demographic dividends, adding that this task would be performed within the context of four pillars― the economy, education, health and good governance.
On Ghana's economy, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government, over the last 11 months, had worked to ensure the stability of the country's macro-economic indicators without which private sector growth would be curtailed.
"We have reduced inflation and interest rates, and have largely stabilised the cedi. We have reduced significantly the fiscal deficit, by rationalising public sector expenditure and, at the same time, improving government revenue. Government, within this period, has controlled domestic borrowing, so as not to crowd out the private sector from the financial markets. Our external debt commitments have been brought to more sustainable limits," he said.
Focusing on strengthening the private sector, he said government had shifted its focus from economic policy of taxation to incentivising production while a number of measures had been taken to lead the country and her economy into the new digital age.
Those measures, the President said, included the introduction of an e-business registration system, a paperless port clearance system, digital addressing system, mobile interoperability system, and the national identification system, all of which were designed to formalize the Ghanaian economy, reduce the cost of doing business and facilitate interaction between businesses and their clients, particularly in a technology-driven era, where connectivity through digital services was an important element in achieving competitiveness.
President Akufo-Addo said government recognized that the most effective way to ensuring prosperity in Ghana, and on the African continent, was through value addition activities, which held the key to transforming and diversifying economies into modern ones.
Invariably, he said, much depended on the industrial development of the country and continent, on the basis of a modernised agriculture.
"An educated workforce will facilitate its achievement. The countries that have done well, even without natural resources, are the countries that have invested in education and skills training. It is not gold, cocoa, diamonds, timber or oil that is going to build our nation. If it was, it would have done so already. It is empowered Ghanaians, especially the empowered youth of today, who are going to build Ghana," he added.
To this end, the President said government aimed to reduce gender gaps in school enrolment and completion at secondary and tertiary levels, ensure that all school-going children attained a minimum of high school education through the Free SHS policy, focus on a production-oriented approach to education, focusing on the knowledge and skills needed for economic development; and improve the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering And Mathematics (STEM) education at all levels.
He said the judicious and honest application of the nation's resources was heralding the reinvigoration of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance that educational campaigns on reproductive health would be intensified; physical exercise and proper nutritional and dietary practices and healthy lifestyles encouraged; more nurses and doctors trained in geriatric health care, public education for increased antenatal and postnatal care intensified, and the integration of family planning and nutrition education into antenatal and postnatal care to address reproductive health and nutritional concerns in Ghana.
On governance, President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance of the promotion and deepening of a system and culture of accountable governance in Ghana, free of corruption, whereby the people were governed in accordance with the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability and social justice.
Such a system, he said, included building strong institutions of state, such as a well-resourced Parliament and Judiciary, efficient law enforcement agency and an effective security force that would see their responsibilities and allegiances to the wider public interest, not just to the conveniences of the government of the day.
Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)