We are paying a heavy price for growing up. And neither work nor welfare is giving us the security that we need. This economic insecurity is risking our confidence in our future health and well-being, says Nana Adwoa Eshun
The past Christmas might have been the quietest one yet in Ghana. These are times of great economic instability and crisis and there has never been a more daunting time to be a Ghanaian youth. At the dinner table, on the walk to school, behind our desks, day in and day out we hear the worries of our society and families reiterated constantly.
The economic struggle has had an evident impact on all aspects of our society. Food prices have doubled, and Ghana ranks first with the highest food prices in Sub-saharan Africa. Fuel is a luxury. The country recorded an inflation rate of 50% by November 2022. We don’t need to hear it from the headlines of newspapers. We are staring into the eyes of doom. Our lives are no longer the same.
In 2016 no financial engineer, minister or layman could have predicted the ongoing crisis. Yet here we are living it. And it’s devastating. Our current turmoil teaches us a valuable lesson. It is imperative for us to do all that we can, to prepare for the more difficult times ahead.
The cost of independence: Young People’s Economic Security.
Young people pay a heavy price for growing up. And neither work nor welfare is giving us the security that we need. This economic insecurity is risking our confidence in our future health and well-being. Our dreams and our aspirations. As well as the future of our generation.
What are the steps that we can take towards achieving economic independence? (I note that the crisis is such that this may not be possible for everyone). It is easy to rely on our parents and elders – they are after all the breadwinners. However, while we can respect and support them, there are a few things that we can also do to be intentional about building our own economic stability.
From basic schools, we are taught the importance of putting money away for future use. The benefits of savings are indisputable. Research done by Gina Chowa and others in 2012 shows that Ghanaian youth have positive attitudes towards saving. However, much of these efforts are towards short-term goals. More than half of the interviewed participants stated that they would use their savings that very month.
We must prepare ourselves for the times we are part of. Saving is not enough. We must also alter the views we have towards saving and its gravity. Let’s work towards saving for longer periods of time, making sacrifices and investments not only to guard in difficult times but also to make us the responsible citizens our country needs.
Designing and providing services – All around the world, we hear innovative and inspiring stories of how fellow youth bring ideas to life. We are no different, the possibilities of our imagination are limitless and it is time we take advantage of this fact. Whether it is improving the way we make our waist beads, developing some of our local games like “sansakroma” or animating our “Ananse” stories. There are so many opportunities for us to apply our ideas, develop skills and make revenue from this process. As a youth, this is one of the most “idea-rich” periods of our lives, let’s not take this time for granted.
Consumer Culture – In addition to developing our innovative spirits, it is also helpful to support the efforts made by our neighbours. Listening to some of my friends, a common perception holding them back from expressing their creative intellect is the lack of support they believe will follow. And unfortunately, there is some truth to this claim. There are a lot of projects undertaken by local youth that do not go as far because they lack sufficient support which translates into attention and then into success. Several projects such as the “solawash” (which provided an innovative way to maintain hygiene in the midst of the pandemic) died down after a few weeks of media circulation.
There is a Ghanaian proverb that translates as ” when you see your neighbour’s beard on fire, wet your own”. This directive goes out not only to the Ghanaian youth but to young people all over the world. You can never be too young to take steps to support your own economic stability. We remain the key to our world’s search for economic prosperity, we just have to shape ourselves to fit the lock.
“Sansakroma” – a popular local Ghanaian game played with rocks
“Ananse” – a popular Ghanaian collection of folktales and stories
Features Photo by aboodi vesakaran on Unsplash