African Challenges: Transforming Into Opportunities

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Although African governments have many good governance mechanism at their disposal, they are still faced with a lot of challenges.

According to UNICEF in 2017, millions of children’s needs are not being met. And addressing their needs the report said, there was the need for a vital part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be reached, where 56% of the 169 SDG targets are either directly or indirectly connected to children.

Though, the world is gradually becoming a better place for children, there is still a long way to go. For instance, during 2016, 3000 children aged 5 to 14 years old and 15000 children aged 0-5 died every day, as WHO reported.

According to World Economic Forum (WEF) report, about 70% of sub-Saharan export revenues has ever coils around oil, metals, minerals and other natural resources. These resources, we all know will eventually run out, how best can African countries diversify their economies and significantly utilize the benefits of these natural resources?

Youth unemployment and underemployment in Africa is also a critical challenge. African Development Bank reports that, 60% of Africa’s unemployed population are youth and nearly 70% of them falls into the category of “Working Poor”, thus they make less than US$ 3.10 a day amid unemployment and low pay for the work they do.

In a 2017 Africa Social Impact Report, the aforementioned is just one of the many strong indications that our societies are still not set up as well as they needed to be, in order to respond adequately to the challenges faced by children and youth in Africa.

Celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2017 since its official launch in Africa in 2012, the CEO of Reach for Change, Sofia Breitholtz, indicated that, they have aligned with the agenda 2030 framework and had taken their own steps to contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs.

She said, “In Africa today, together with our networks, stakeholders, and by listening to our children and youth, we have worked hard to find and support social innovators who tackle some of the key challenges facing Africa today.”

Sofia noted that, Sub – Saharan Africa, unlike any other region in the world has a population of children that is on the rise. “Today, approximately 43% of Africa’s population is children under the age of 15. That’s just under 50 million children. These are the leaders, innovators, workers, custody and dreamers of the future and we already know that they are up against some major challenges. Economic marginalization, discrimination and inadequate education and health care all an extreme effects on children and youth, and on coming generations.”

“This is why our team in Africa is challenging the status quo and relentlessly pushing social innovation as a driver of systematic change. This year, we have consulted in dialogues that have resulted in defining the first African policy on social entrepreneurship in Ghana and the formation of multi-sector partnerships to achieve the SDG targets in the country,” She noted.

According to the Africa Regional Director of Reach for Change, Amma Lartey, with much supportive, committed and generous partner like Millicom by their side, they have impaction over 800,000 children’s lives together.

She said, there were major expansions in their program in Ethiopia where they began rolling out an ambitious new partnership with the IKEA Foundation.

“In the first of a three-year program, we conducted a wild call for applications for Ethiopia’s top social entrepreneurs and supported 30 entrepreneurs who are promoting early childhood development and improving learning outcomes in schools in our accelerators and incubators,” said Amma Lartey.

At a National Corporate of Social Organizations (CSOs) Policy Forum on Social Enterprise and Impact Investing, organized by Social Enterprise (SE) Ghana and partnered by STAR Ghana, the Head of Industrialization and Partnership at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Papa Kow Bartels intimated that, the Ministry of Trade and Industry had found it necessary to encourage private sector organisations to venture into Social Enterprise businesses and drive back profit into society and also address the issues surrounding the SDGs.

Commenting on the theme of the forum, “Achieving the SDG’s through Innovative and Social Enterprise” in Accra on Friday 20th July, 2018, Mr. Bartels stressed that, the Ministry of trade was poised to train and build the capacity of such enterprises and as well as put together initiatives that will aid them to train enterprises on emerging issues of strategic economical achievements.

He said, partnering with Social Enterprise which is also known as SE Ghana has been  fulfilling, looking at the kind of impact and the achievement of the organization which is the government’s focus to eradicate poverty through industrialization.

According to him, in order for government to eradicate poverty through industrialization to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SGD’s), government has introduced a Ghana Social Enterprise Policy (GSEP).

The policy, he said, was expected to become the major driver for innovating local led or owned business modeled innovations to address sustainable development challenges, increase productivity, boost incomes and contribute to building resilient communities and economy.

In an exclusive interview with Dr. Ben Ocra, the President of Philanthropist Forum, he explained that, government should provide consistent and coordinated efforts in driving the policy of its logical implementation.

Some of the challenges he underpinned was the issue of human resources capability, lack of long term financial support institutions, non existence of a policy framework, education and centralize body coordination towards the development of the SE ecosystem.

He also said, the ability of non-profit organizations to raise resources and achieve financial independence is a pre-requisite for building a civil society that is able to be effective and sustainable in the long-term.

“In order to fully achieve a middle-income status that reflects the living standards of our people, the country must take decisions to ensure that it is self-reliant. Start ups need supported and financial incentives in terms of providing tax holidays to help sustain the social sector,” Dr. Ocra said.

He said, in the light of the current government’s programs and that of the previous government, everything goes along to complement attempts to straighten the private sector and helping to curb the unemployment menace among the youth in particular.

The policy, he indicated, will appeal to people and also impact activities in both the private sector and the non profit sector.
Source: Sammy Adjei || ghananewsonline.com.gh

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