Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) holds Policy Dialogue

The Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana has held a Policy Dialogue on the theme “The Youth Bulge: Implications for Demographic Dividend and Sustainable Development” on Wednesday May 29, 2019 at the Ecobank Towers in Accra, Ghana. The dialogue brought together population scientists, policy-makers, civil society organisations, diplomats, planners, media and the general public to discuss Ghana’s youthful population and the demographic dividend. The discourse focused on the economic and social benefits that Ghana could derive from changes in population structure.

Mr. Samuel Horam, Head of Operations and Technology delivered the welcome address on behalf of the Managing Director, Ecobank Ghana. Prof. Joseph Yaro, Director, Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) indicated that the shift in Ghana’s population structure has multi-sectorial implications and this mandates a discussion on issues concerning the youth bulge.

Dr. Kwame Ampomah a former Director of Reproductive Health, Information, Education and Communication at the National Population Council who chaired the event expressed interest in issues regarding demographic dividend and highlighted the opportunities it presents for Ghana’s development.  

Dr. Kwame Ampomah, Chairperson

In a brief presentation, Dr. Faustina Frempong-Ainguah spoke on how shift in the age structure brings about the youth bulge which presents a window of opportunity to invest in the human capital as well as create an enabling environment for economic development. She emphasised that depending on how this opportunity is harnessed, it could either result in rapid economic growth or a population bust.

Delivering the partner’s remarks on behalf of the Country Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Robert Mensah indicated that UNFPA since 2013 begun addressing issues related to the  demographic dividend in partnership with the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS),  National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), National Population Council (NPC) and Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). He recommended that Ghana develops a National Observatory for demographic dividend with the following units; data collection and backup, analyses and modelling, advocacy, communication and dissemination in partnership with UNFPA and other United Nations agencies, and civil society organizations.

Mr. David Kombat, an alumnus of RIPS, representing the Government Statistician, reported that Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) is positioning itself to continue to produce timely and quality data which is essential for planning.  He highlighted plans to collaborate with RIPS, NPC and NDPC to organize policy dialogues towards the upcoming 2020 population census. 

Delivering the final remarks from partners, Prof. Augustine Ankomah, Country Director, National Population Council indicated that the demographic window does not last forever and Ghana needs to take advantage of this opportunity.

Mr. Raymond Acquah of Joy FM, an Accra-based radio station who was the moderator for the panel discussion led the dialogue on the implications of demographic dividend for sustainable development with five discussants addressing various aspects of the theme. Prof. Stephen O. Kwankye (RIPS) indicated that by 2025 the window of opportunity for Ghana will close and thus, there is the need for restructuring the educational system oriented towards entrepreneurship. He added that Ghana’s current fertility rate is not necessarily the challenge, however available resources needs to be manage prudently through transparent participatory governance to cater for the current population.  Dr. Ayaga Bawah (RIPS) also added that the dividend is not automatic but requires planning and policy implementation to be able to harness it. According to him, “Ghana’s pace at investing in the youth bulge has been slow”.

Mrs. Mary Mpereh who represented NDPC spoke on the importance of micro-economic stability and developing the private sector for job creation and economic growth. She noted that as part of the medium term agenda of the Government- also known as Agenda for Jobs - there has been entrepreneurship training, business start-ups and investments in agro-processing industry all in the bid to provide jobs for the youth. She admitted that there is a communication gap between tduty bearers and the youth which calls for a youth dialogue.

Executive Director of NPC, Dr. Leticia Appiah, mentioned that the focus on investment in the population should be hinged on developing competitiveness, quality manpower and ensuring productivity. She added that there is the need to lay emphasis on best practices that has worked for the Asian Tigers.

Mr. Caesar Kogoziga from Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), doubling as the youth representative on the panel noted that the Asian Tigers planned for the youth bulge but Ghana entered into the change in age structure by accident. He added that with implementation of relevant policies, the nation can begin to reap the benefits the bulge.

Left to Right: Mr. Caesar Kokoziga (PPAG), Mrs. Mary Mpereh (NDPC), Dr. Leticia Appiah (NPC), Mr. Raymond Acquah (Moderator), Prof. Stephen O. Kwankye and Dr. Ayaga Bawah (RIPS)

Present at the dialogue were representatives from the Police Service, WANEP, ISODEC, Ghana AIDS Commission, USAID, Ministries, Private Enterprise Foundation, Ghana Health Service, CDD and Canadian High Commission.

Cross-section of audience during Open Forum

 

 

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