Written By Prof. Francis Acquah - In the decade of independence, many Ghanaians secured their livelihoods at the state-owned industrial and agricultural enterprises: the industrial conglomerate, GIHOC, State Goldmines Corporation, State Fishing Corporation and others.
The enterprises created thousands of jobs and promoted the building of manpower training institutions, health, housing, transport and infrastructural facilities. The pursuit of a free-market system led the state to withdraw from manufacturing while the private sector took on the mantle of growing the industrial sector.
The industrial sector provides the bulk of private-sector employment opportunities. It is currently grappling with competition from imported products both in quality and pricing, low capacity utilisation and high operational costs. The sector’s capacity to respond to the thousands of graduates looking for jobs appears severely challenged. An overview of the growing graduate unemployment should guide the planning of our national manpower development. Are we producing too many Bachelor of Arts graduates or too few Bachelor of Science, Engineering graduates and producing too many lawyers or too few medical doctors?
Appraising graduate production
There may be overproduction of non-science and engineering graduates, particularly business graduates as a result of the increasing number of private business schools besides the large business school enrolment at the public universities and distant education programmes. There are instances when about 20 students graduate from a science department as compared to about 400 business students graduating from the public university. The government, the private sector and the educational institutions should collaborate on appraising the current rate of graduate production,; the type of degrees and make projections for science and engineering manpower training in view of technological transformation of the national economy.
Industry must undertake operational changes to look for growth and boost employment:
- Acquire advanced manufacturing technologies.
- Develop local substitutes for imported raw materials.
- Improve efficiency of raw materials utilisation.
- Improve quality and packaging of manufactured products.
- Conduct R&D activities to capture greater share of the market.
- Overhaul strategies of funding operations.|
- Explore subcontracting, partnerships and tolling opportunities to increase utilisation of installed capacity.
Improved access to financial credits is crucial to the successful implementation of these developments. The financial institutions must rebrand their portfolios to focus more on production-oriented ventures. The government, financial institutions, and the Association of Ghana Industries should dialogue to create credit financing schemes for Industry and Agriculture through a development finance institution. Seed capital of the lending portfolio of the institution may be formed from a percentage of the Oil and Gas revenue. We should also consider allocating a portion of the foreign exchange retention of the Goldmines. Exploitation of our depleteable natural resources (Oil and Gas, Gold Bauxite, Manganese, Diamonds, etc.) must facilitate investments in agriculture and industry. Special tax incentives may be introduced to attract investments in foundries, spare parts production, especially for the Oil and Gas industries and agro-industrial machinery manufacture.
The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) should develop plans to integrate Ghanaian manufacturing into the ECOWAS and other African countries. Ghana’s huge potential for solar salt production can be exploited to produce industrial raw materials for the country and the ECOWAS. A Chloro-alkali plant will provide the necessary linkages to integrate the Oil and Gas industries, the establishment of petrochemical plants and a bauxite-alumina plant. The plants will produce industrial chemicals and thereby reduce the import requirements of many industries.
Among measures to arrest graduate unemployment, additional manufacturing capacities will be required, particularly domestic resource-based ventures. The Cocoa Processing Company, for instance, has the potential to establish new processing capacities in most regions of Ghana to create more manufacturing employment opportunities.
Ghana showcased its industrial potential, the resourcefulness and R&D potentials of the Academia at the First Industry and Technology Fair in 1986, INDUTECH 86. The range of Ghanaian manufactured goods, entrepreneurial skills, Science and Technology research products were of great promise, particularly the exhibits of the small-scale industries. They demonstrated that “Ghana can make it” through industry and appropriate technology. That was 30 years ago. Today we are back with greater vigour to promote “made-in-Ghana goods”. Let us engage the young unemployed graduates in these ventures. They need support to apply their skills in business management, modern technology-based production, local raw materials-based industrial production, modern agriculture, rural development and other opportunities.
Our national development achievements cannot be sustained without indigenous engineering of the economy. Ghanaian graduates have demonstrated proven competence working in major national institutions. Government’s financial support for youth business ventures should be expanded to generate young graduate entrepreneurs.
The young entrepreneurs can form partnerships to exploit the agro-industrial potentials of the districts.
The districts and rural communities can make available agricultural lands as equities in the small-scale graduate ventures to construct irrigation systems, grow and process agricultural produce
Some business opportunities are listed:
1. Solar drying of fruits, vegetables, tuber crops and salted fish.
2. Cassava and corn products: Starch, chips, dough, gari, flour.
3. Production of fruit juices, wines, jam, vinegar.
4. Cocoa products: Beverages, butter, confectionery, cosmetics.
5. Production of Essential Oil
6. Production of agro-industrial machinery.
7. Civil construction, traffic controls, process controls, pumps and compressors installation and maintenance, production of silos.
8. Renewable energy ventures.
9. Biogas production enterprises.
10. Waste to energy, waste treatment and disposal, waste paper recycling.
11. Construction and management of irrigation systems
12. Quality assessment of industrial raw materials and quality control of manufactured goods.
13. Rural water and sanitation engineering systems, management of boreholes.
14. Environmental safety engineering.
15. Business management, consulting and legal services.
There are countless opportunities for unemployed graduates to secure their livelihoods. For example, as part of the programme to boost tourism and employment, the Cape Coast Metropolitan Authority, Central Regional Development Commission and the traditional authorities can build a traditional crafts village at Cape Coast to create business opportunities for engineering, visual arts, technical and vocational school graduates to produce and market traditional crafts.
The crafts village may promote longer stay of tourists in the region. It will also encourage the young craftsmen and women to upgrade and diversify their products. Ghana can make it.
- Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
- Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
- Reading Mode