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  • RIPS team at Population Association of America Meeting
  • Participants at the Frontage of the Retreat Venue - Hephzibah Christian Centre

RIPS holds Policy Dialogue - The Youth Bulge: Implications for Demographic Dividend and Sustainable Development

The Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana has held a policy dialogue on the theme 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, the 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.

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

Prof. Joseph Yaro, Director, RIPS

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

 

Dr. Kwame Ampomah, Chairperson

In a brief presentation, Dr. Faustina Frempong-Ainguah spoke on how the 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 whether this opportunity is harnessed 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,  National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the National Population Council (NPC) and the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). He recommended that Ghana develops a National Observatory for demographic dividend made up of five units; data collection and backup, analyses and modelling, advocacy, communication and dissemination, partnership with UNFPA and other United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, and information systems.

 

Dr. Robert Mensah, UNFPA

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

Mr. David Kombat, Ghana Statistical Service

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

 

Dr. Augustine Ankomah, Country Director, Population Council

The moderator for the panel discussion Mr. Raymond Acquah of Joy Fm 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, Ghana needs a more relevant restructuring of the educational system oriented towards entrepreneurship. He added that Ghana’s current fertility rate is not necessarily the challenge. However, there is a need to manage the available resources prudently through transparent participatory governance to cater for the current population.  In addition, Dr. Ayaga Bawah (RIPS) stated that the dividend is not automatic. It requires planning and policy implementation to be able to harness it. So far, Ghana’s pace at investing in the youth bulge has been slow.

The representative of the NDPC, Mrs Mary Mpereh spoke about the importance of micro-economic stability, 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, start-ups, and investments in agro-processing industry all in the bid to provide jobs for the youth. She further highlighted that there is a communication gap between the duty bearers and the youth, thus, there is a need for a youth dialogue to bridge the gap.

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

The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) representative, Mr Caesar Kogoziga -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. However, with implementation of relevant policies, we can begin to reap the benefits the bulge.

Members of the forum were given the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions on issues regarding the demographic dividend. The deliberations were summarised by the Chairperson in his closing remarks.

 

(left to right) Mr. Caesar Kokoziga, PPAG; Mrs. Mary Mpereh, NDPC; Dr. Leticia Appiah, NPC; Mr. Raymond Acquah, Moderator; Prof. Stephen Owusu Kwankye and Dr. Ayaga Bawah, RIPS

Members of the audience included representatives from the Police Service, WANEP, ISODEC, Ghana AIDS Commission, USAID, the Ministries, Private enterprise Foundation, Ghana Health Service, CDD, Canadian High Commission, etc.

 

           

Cross-section of audience during Open Forum