Ghana’s Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, on the 19th of July 2021, granted an exclusive interview on Ghana’s Asaase radio in Accra. Among the many topics discussed were Ghana’s security situation. The minister, during the show, confirmed that the Ghana government had received very reliable intel that terrorist groups in Burkina Faso are recruiting from Ghana.
Frankly, it wasn’t a surprise to me - even more, when the information minister added that the government’s immediate intention was rather beefing up security along its borders.
Don’t get me wrong, the decision is a very good one but let’s ask ourselves- is it the long-term solution to the security problem of rising unemplyment staring at us?
Terrorism is a very difficult term to define and explain. In fact, more than a hundred diplomatic or scholarly definitions exist. But for short and in the broadest sense, terrorism is the use of violence to achieve political aims. In Walter Hafeur’s book- A history of terrorism, he adds that terrorism mostly involves assassinations, (car) bombings, (car) hijackings, diplomatic kidnappings among many others.
A little recap of history shows that after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the USA, several observers- ranging from experts to both former vice president AI Gore to president George W. Bush of the USA called for an increased aid and educational assistance to end terrorism. But that failed woefully.
Most of the experts, I believe failed to view terrorism as a direct response to low market opportunities and perhaps ignorance. Most of the experts failed to see the rise of terrorism as a response to political conditions and long-lasting feelings of indignity and frustrations that had a lot to do with economies.
In Burkina Faso, it is of no difference to point out to the facts that abject poverty and inadequate access to opportunities are top reasons why the youth have been easily swayed to join the terrorists. With Ghana’s unemployment rate on the rise, which stood at 4.12% (GSS, 2019), now at 4.53% (GSS, 2020) and projected to reach 4.70% by the end of this year according to Trading Economics global macro models and analytics, it’s very important to note that the government of Ghana must take a critical look at the uprising youth unemployment trends before it takes a toll on our security.
A look also at Ghana’s Employment Challenges, a book edited by Eugenia Date-Bah, GFA (2011) elaborates how as a country we have sat so aloof as a people for youth unemployment numbers to increase to such and further playing politics with it- a majority of the unemployed being Ghana’s energetic youth.
With the government of Burkina Faso and Nigeria facing off with terrorist attacks, it will be a very funny and gross show of unseriousness that with all the red light warnings, the government of Ghana won’t consider doing something urgent about Ghana’s youth unemployment.
Employees in terrorism are recruited just like any other security services. They are promised salaries, per diems among others whereas others are promised ransoms based on the participation in low-level fraud, kidnappings, etc.
With Ghana’s growing youth unemployment, it’s of no surprise that some recruitments have been made into Burkina Faso, as Oppong Nkrumah rightly said and I think our biggest fear is to have an enemy within.
The Ghana government led by Nana Akufo Addo, who is the Chair of the Economic Communiy of West Africa States (ECOWAS) must take the growing formations of terrorist groups in Sub-Saharan Africa very seriously and make pragmatic efforts to ensure that its citizens in Ghana are not tempted enough to join these groups. Growing youth unemployment in the country must be addressed with all urgency.
As the government has dedicated much attention and focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the last four years, this should be encouraged and continued with financial investment and human resources as this will help equip individuals with the technical and proessional skills needed for socio-economic and industrial development of the country and further enhance Ghana’s education standards to meet industry requirements, where people can be employable or entrepreneurs.
The foresight should rather be on motivating and equipping many to be entrepreneurs- since it’s the private sector that grows an economy.
There should also be easy or moderate access to loans and funds for graduates. Government may assist by serving as a guarantor for loans for these young graduates, putting in place a proper identification system for easy tracking and a way of making access to funds for graduates quite easier.
As it stands, it’s almost impossible to access funds from banks in Ghana as a graduate even with a million dollar idea. The government can also cut taxes for graduate start-ups. Access to funds from banks and private business firms by fresh graduates is almost impossible and the government must have a focus on that.
One of the most effective ways to solving the terrorism crisis around Ghana is what the state is doing- training and making sure it has a functioning intelligence service unit, together with a standing security army as we beef up security at our borders. But the government must do its best to tackle the enemy within- rising youth unemployment by ensuring good governance.
Article written by:
Osei Kojo Emmanuel
Research Volunteer - ILAPI.
Eugenia Date-Bah , GFA; Ghana’s Employment Challenges (2011).Ghana Academy of Arts Publishing press, Accra-Ghana.
Ghana Statistical Services (2019, 2020).
photo credit: google image