FORFEIT HIGHER EDUCATION AND BECOME AN ENTREPRENEURE
“I’m confused and don’t know whether I should continue my education to the university. I am scared the university education will not pay off after I spend the next four years of my life studying.”
Those were the words of Nhyira, an 18 year old girl who had passed her Senior High Education certificate exams with excellent grades. She is expecting to gain admission to pursue B.A Sociology in the University of Ghana. Nhyira is the first of four children and lives in the capital city of Ghana, Accra with her mother in a single room. Her father died when she was fourteen years old.Her mother, a poor widow continues to engage in petty trading to take care of the family.
“It was a difficult time for the family when my dad died. He was a civil servant so didn’t really have enough money. We were barely left with nothing after we took care of his funeral expenses. My mum however vowed to support me and my siblings in our education even if shehad to sell all her belongings.”
Nhyira, is a Ghanaian name which means ‘blessing’ in the Akan language. Amidst tears, she tells me she is not convinced she can be that blessing to her mother and siblings. Now her major worry is whether to continue her education to the tertiary or abandon it to start some petty trading to support her mother and younger siblings.She tells me it will be difficult for her mother to raise money to support her four years education in the university and that with the current high unemployment rate especially for university graduates, she would not want to graduate university and start struggling to find a job.
“I have heard many graduates complain there are no jobs and seen them stay at home after their National Service. I don’t want this to happen to me.”
Nhyira’s dilemma is not peculiar. The youth in Ghana especially university graduates are at wits end with what to do with their lives. The unemployment rate in Ghana is alarming,albeit it is difficult to access the exact statistics. The last population census held in 2010 and previous years did not factor in the determination of the unemployment rate in the country. The country’s inability to determine the number of unemployed has made it difficult for successive governments to determine the skills the youth have and how they can fit into the job market.
Despite this, those who find a job lament they are not being paid well. A little research I conducted reveals that some first degree holders are earning between 300to 700Ghana cedis as net monthly salary. This is equivalent to 81- 189 US dollars. The current minimum wage is 6 cedis, equivalent to 1 dollar 62 cents.
With this range of monthly salary one is hardly able to pay transportation to and from work, pay rent, electricity, water bills as well as cater for contingencies such as health care. It is a rough way of living and many live from hand to mouth. The situation is being compounded by the depreciation of the cedi against the dollar. The cedi has depreciated by 14.6% in the second quarter of 2014. Ghana is struggling to maintain its status as a lower middle income country and many are facing hardship.Government has recently asked for a bail out from the IMF.
The frustration of unemployed youth in Ghana cannot be underestimated. In an effort to find ways of tackling the situation, a group known as Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana, (UGAG) exists. It was formed in 2010 and seeks to mount pressure on government to find lasting solution to the unemployment menace confronting the country.The Director of Operations of the association, Desmond Bress-Biney says their proposals to government have not been adhered to.
“Graduate in Teaching will help solve teacher deficit. This was one of the critical areas we touched on during our last meeting with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Moses Asaga and his deputy, Antwi Boasiako Sekyere in 2012.”
In spite of the economic hardship Ghana is currently facing, some youth have found the need to venture into entrepreneurship instead of searching for jobs which are mostly non-existent. Government under the President John Mahama administration in recognizing that entrepreneurship is the key to reducing the unemployment rate has launched an entrepreneurship fund, ‘Youth Enterprise Support’ with a capital of 10 million Ghana cedis. The initiative is dedicated to growing Ghana’s economy by tapping into the creative and innovativeness of young entrepreneurs aged between 18 to 35 years through the provision of financial support and expert advisory support for their businesses.
Even though many see this move by government as commendable as it might help people who find themselves in Nhyira’s situation to become entrepreneurs, others fear this will push more youth to reconsider whether to pursue higher education or abandon it to venture into entrepreneurship.The Director of Operations of UGAG, Desmond Bress-Biney although believes in creating entrepreneurs says the association does not believe in setting up parallel institutions to create jobs.
“Although YES is a laudable idea, will GYEEDA continue to operate? What happens to GEBBS?Why is YES not handled on non-partisan platform? The issue of youth unemployment must be handled as a national issue and given the necessary attention like we gave to the Girl Child education. The only way to solve unemployment is to create jobs.”
Previous modules under the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) which was established in 2006 to tackle the unemployment situation in the country was rocked with a series of scandals when some misappropriation of funds were uncovered in 2013 by Investigative Journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni.
Government has been advised to tread cautiously with the implementation of the Youth Enterprise Support.
Meanwhile, the benefits of pursuing the highest form of education cannot be overemphasized hence there is a need to tackle the unemployment menace in Ghana wholly.
BY NABIL AHMED RUFAI, BROADCAST JOURNALIST
The Supreme Court on 31/07/2014 unanimously ruled that Alfred Agbesi Woyome had no valid contract and further directed that the businessman refunds the $51.2 million judgement debt paid to him between 2009 – 2011. The seven-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood ruled that the National Democratic Congress financier got the money out of an invalid and unconstitutional contract and that there was sufficient evidence available which the Attorney General’s Department could have relied on to prevent this fraudulent payment in the first place.
In its ruling, the court said the contracts upon which he made and received the claim was in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.
The ruling follows a JUDICIAL REVIEW brought before the court by former Attorney General Martin Amidu AKA “Citizen Vigilante” against Alfred Agbes. Mr. Amidu was seeking various reliefs in the two separate cases.
Although the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in his favour in June 2013, Martin Amidu applied for Judicial Review in what he termed a miscarriage of justice.
In that trial, Martin Amidu, who represented himself in court, argued that the Attorney General, who was one of the respondents in the case, facilitated Waterville Holdings’ “unconstitutional” acts in the construction of stadia for the CAN 2008.
The Attorney General, represented by Chief State Attorneys Dorothy Afriyie Ansah and Stella Badu told the court Martin Amidu was “entitled to his reliefs”.
As we have seen, the Attorney General’s office lacks adequate leadership and prosecution skills to carry out effective prosecution to retrieve the state’s coffers from the NDC financier. Martin Amidu is therefore a real brave heart who needs to be honoured and celebrated by the nation for his pivotal role in the Woyome-judgement debt saga.
Since Ghana’s State Prosecution lost the Ghana @ 50 case, the Ya-Na case and now the Woyome-judgement debt saga, I have come to the conclusion that the organisation is “not fit for purpose.” As a lawyer with fourteen years experience, with ten of those years spent as a Crown Advocate (principal prosecutor) in the United Kingdom, now practising in Ghana, I am amazed by the sheer incompetence and amateurish of some of the attorneys representing the state as prosecutors.
From nine months in Ghana I have seen sometimes, they even do not turn up in court and fail to inform the court as a matter of curtsey to avoid waste of time, cost and resources. On some days, they turn up late with no explanation as to why they were late and at times with no file. They often ask for adjournments or “dates” for flimsy reasons and when they are ready, they come across as unprepared and their performance is nothing to write home about.
I cannot believe some of the elementary mistakes they commit in prosecuting cases, as if their main goal is defeat. In some cases, the judge is compelled to give default judgement because the Attorney General Department failed to represent the state at the hearing or put up a defence. The catalogue of inefficiencies by the State Prosecution is beyond comprehension. I guess probably, that is how prosecution is done in Ghana.
The failures, unwillingness or inability of the Attorney General’s Department to prosecute the Woyome case is very disturbing and a risk to case law development and seeking justice for victims of crime in Ghana. They hide behind their incompetence and accuse judges of being bias against the state. I am not defending the judiciary and I have my own suspicion that some judges may also be incompetent and bias against the state for whatever reason.
Notwithstanding these obstacles the main culprit for the unfavourable judgements against the state is the incompetence by the prosecution from the Attorney General’s office.
Martin Amidu’s one man crusade demonstrates that for the state to reverse the incompetence and improve the performance of prosecutors there is the urgent need for root and branch reorganisation of the Prosecution Service in Ghana. There is a need for the next government to establish an Independent Prosecution Service similar to that in England and Wales.
How long are we going to allow the Attorney General to wear two hats at the same time? The post holder simply cannot be trusted to advice the government and be expected to prosecute those in government and or associated with the government as demonstrated by the case of Woyome.
I understand the NDC made a manifesto commitment to separate the Attorney General’s Department and Ministry of Justice into an independent Prosecution Service but sadly, like all of their manifesto commitments, has not come into fruition. The separation is absolutely critical not only to improve the prosecution service but also to wean off the political contamination in the prosecution of cases.
Prosecution and trials are not about vengeance and retribution but to demand justice, through transparency, fairness and accountability for all, irrespective of political, religious, tribal affiliation and socio-economic status.
The creation of an Independent Prosecution Service headed by a technocrat capable of making independent decisions devoid of politics on prosecutions is long overdue in Ghana. That should be accompanied by competency based skills training for Prosecutors and adequately resourced. State Prosecution Service should also cast the net wider in search of prosecutors, including instructing private experience Barristers to prosecute high profile and complex cases on behalf of the state. From my observation in the court room in Ghana, it is abundantly clear to me that the defeats suffered by the state at the courts are not due to the state not having good or bad cases but rather more to do with poor prosecution. A typical example is the Ya-Na case. What you see is what you get, chuff in chuff out. I could have done a better job in that case to at least, secured conviction for the victim and his family.
From the above failures, non-attendance at courts, defaults judgements against the state and others, it is obvious that the Prosecution Service or the Attorney General’s Department lacks effective leadership. Perhaps, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice and his lieutenants are too busy with political decisions on the drafting of bills and bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements or even pre-occupied with unrealistic schemes to prosecute and convict political opponents and therefore have no or little time for prosecuting other criminal cases.
Ghana needs a national prosecution service with an independent body to conduct day-to-day operational delivery of successful prosecution and a political head that would report on policy to the minister but be solely responsible for leadership and direction, the development and implementation of strategic policies. A service with skilled, competent and professional prosecutors that would make it feasible for the state to secure successful prosecutions, just like that of our hero, Martin “Citizen Vigilante”
By Godwin Adjei-Gyamfi
Lawyer & Former Prosecutor at Crown Prosecution Service, UK
PICTURE: Martin Amidu & Godwin Adjei-Gyamfi @ Ghana Supreme Court
Source: Ghana/Prisoral Lens/ Priscilla Selinam Sogah
Date: June 06, 2013
Encroachment of Lake Tesa by some residents of East Legon has derailed the beauty of the resort which is at the verge of destruction.
The buffer zone of the lake has also been turned into a route for motorist living in the area.
Lake Tesa was created to provide water for the construction of the Accra- Tema motorway in the first republic under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Following the completion of the motorway, the Tesa Lake remained a beautiful resort and served as a recreational site for residents.
However, negligence on the part of city authorities and unregulated acts of some citizens have left the legacy of the first president in an undesirable state.
A visit to the lake site revealed that construction of buildings were ongoing at the buffer zones of the lake.
Some contractors are virtually filling the lake with heaps of sand from the shore.
The spillage bridge created to aid the flow of water has also been opened to traffic for residents leaving in the area.
The unconcerned posture assumed by local authorities especially the water resources commission and the Environmental Protection Agency is worrisome.
In 2000 the water resources commission following similar complaints from residents of East Legon, set up the lake Tesa committee with representatives from the hydrological service, the environmental protection agency, lands commission, forestry commission , the then tourism board now authority, the Tema metropolitan assembly and the east Legon extension land owners.
But what has been the outcome of the innumerable meetings held and allowances taken for each sitting.
As it stands the main drainage system close to the Tesa dam has become a dumping site for residents.
A well- meaning resident out of concern and patriotism was compelled to put up a sign post to ward off unauthorized activities by some residents.
As we commemorate environmental world day we call on the water resources commission and the environmental protection agency to be proactive in protecting our water bodies.
Source:Ghana/Prisoral Lens/ Priscilla Selinam Sogah
Lack of a central database and a national domain to regulate the inflow of online information has accounted for the increase in cyber fraud in Ghana.
A cyber security expert, Nii Armah Tagoe is warning that Cyber crime if not checked , can be detrimental to the socio-economic development of Ghana.
Ghana has been ranked 7th in cyber fraud in the world. This has triggered sentiments about the negative effect this status can have on the socio economic development of the country.
With an internet penetration growth rate of about 10% percent the services sector is the major contribution to Ghana’s GDP.
Access to internet according to communication experts drives the services industry.
Online business transaction is gradually overriding the traditional mode of business operations.
A cyber-security Consultant, Nii Armah Tagoe says there is a possible socio-economic shut down since the country does not have a strong cyber inspection database.
Corporate institutions have also been urged to invest in cyber professionals in order to guard against cyber fraud.
The proliferation of internet cafés and the lack of a robust national domain accounts for Ghana’s cyber fraud status.
Measures therefore need to be put in place to tackle the situation.
Source: Ghana/Prisoral Lens/ Priscilla Selinam Sogah
Date: October 14, 2013
Members of the African Union have in recent times castigated the International Criminal Court for what they say is apparent selective prosecution of African leaders and portraying the continent as a hub of atrocious crimes.
However, a governance expert believes the absence of local capacity and the unwillingness of African political leaders to chastise their own have empowered the ICC in this regard.
Electoral violence has over the years plagued most parts of the African continent. One can easily make mention of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia as victims and more recently Mali, Ivory Coast and Kenya unrest.
All these uprising were not without atrocities against humanity as women and children often become victims in the aftermath of these occurrences.
It is against this backdrop that the International Criminal Court was set up to adjudicate cases involving genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As it stands, ICC remains the only permanent criminal court in the world with the authority to arbitrate when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute.
Currently, 122 states are parties to the Roman statutes of the International criminal court of which 34 of them are African states.
However, in recent times some African leaders have criticized the International Criminal Court for targeting only Africans. Others also have described the actions of the ICC as political witch hunting.
Currently the ICC has opened investigations into eight cases in Africa.
The ongoing trial against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto for criminal charges against humanity has further fueled controversies in this regard.
Following this development, Kenyan parliament last month voted to withdraw their membership to the Roman statutes of the ICC to register their displeasure.
So the question many consider unanswered is should the rest of the 34 African states who are parties to ICC pull out?
The Deputy Director at Amnesty International, Tawanda Hondora in an article published on the Mail & Guardian Website hinted that any move by Africans in this regard would betray the ideals of the African Union.
However governance expert, Baffuor Agyeman Duah believes not all Africans are in support of the proposed withdrawal from the ICC.
Meanwhile Former Defence minister, Dr Kwame Addo Kuffuor and NDC legal team member, Victor Kwadjoga Adawudu have been expressing their opinion on the subject.
According to Dr. Addo Kuffuor the lack of local capacity and the political unwillingness on the parts of African leaders has given the ICC the leeway to act.
Contrarily, a member of the NDC legal team Victor Kwadjoga Adawudu disagrees with the earlier position and cited the election petition hearing in Ghana as a clear case of judicial competence in Ghana.
Meanwhile the AU has announced a special summit to be held in October this 2013 to further deliberate on matters of justices and issues concerning the international criminal court.
In a similar development the International Criminal Court has come out to refute allegations by the African Union.
Government’s inability to maintain roads across the country has been attributed to a funding gap of GHC 686 million.
According to the Director of the road fund secretariat, Franklin Agbanator, this is as a result of a shortfall in revenue generation by the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
Motorists continue to complain about the poor nature of roads scattered across the length and breadth of the country.
Their complaints are as a result of the irregular maintenance of bad roads.
It is common to see several pot holes while using the roads in Accra and other parts of the country.
Most of these roads have not seen any maintenance since they were constructed.
Typical examples of such roads are the Teshie-Nungua bush road and the Tema license office road.
Drivers who ply these deplorable roads have often complained about the damages these roads cause to their vehicles.
Yet not much is being done to address the concerns of these motorists.
Although according to the Ghana road fund secretariat there has been an addition of 29000 kilometers of road network between 2005 till present, revenue generated is inadequate to meet the expectation of road maintenance required.
Mr Franklin Agbnator, Director of the Road Fund Secretariat says in 2012, the secretariat generated only 234million which represent one-third of total revenue expected.
in addition to revenues generated from road tolls the secretariat draws revenue from road worthy fees, fuel levies etc.