The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the GH¢100 billion Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) ‘Obaatampa’ Programme, to create jobs and prosperity for Ghanaians over a three-year period, has begun yielding results.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “this initiative is inspiring the desired dividends that we anticipated. As a result of Government's policies, the economy grew at a provisional 5.2% in the first three quarters of 2021. This growth is expected to be sustained in the medium term. The overall real GDP for the medium term is projected to grow at an average rate of 5.6%, and we remain committed to returning to the fiscal deficit target threshold, as enshrined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Act 982, from this year.”
Speaking at the 73rd Annual New Year School on Tuesday, 25th January 2022, the President indicated that the first phase of the Ghana CARES programme, the phase of stabilisation, came to end in 2020.
The second phase, which started in 2021, he stressed: “aims at revitalising and transforming the economy between 2021 and 2023, and is focused on supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into agriculture, building Ghana's light manufacturing sector, developing the engineering/machine tools and ICT/digital economy, developing Ghana's housing and construction industry, reviewing and optimizing the implementation of Government flagships and key Programmes, and creating jobs for young people, and expanding opportunities for the vulnerable in society, including physically challenged persons.”
Towards addressing the unemployment situation in the country, the President revealed the 2022 budget is focusing on building an entrepreneurial workforce, and, together with stakeholders, Government has agreed on the YouStart Initiative as part of the ways of operationalising the Ghana CARES Programme to address the unemployment menace.
“The YouStart initiative is a key vehicle Government intends to use to create one million (1 million) jobs in the next three (3) years. It is a comprehensive initiative, and will provide an effective solution to the youth unemployment challenge this country has been confronted with over the years. It will support young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring, to enable them launch and operate their own businesses, as well as employ others,” he stated.
Young entrepreneurs, under the initiative, can apply for the following support through a dedicated YouStart online portal: skills training and development; entrepreneurial support and business advisory services; competitive credit and starter packs; mentoring and access to markets, including portals, to facilitate "digital linkages" between youth-led enterprises and other businesses and relevant government agencies.
Successful applicants will be eligible for soft loans of up to fifty thousand cedis (GH¢50,000) to help start-ups (for young graduates and school leavers) and small businesses to expand; starter packs for equipment acquisition up to fifty thousand cedis (GH¢50,000) for individuals and one hundred thousand cedis (GH¢100,000) for associations and groups; and a standardised loan package between one hundred thousand cedis (GH¢100,000) to four hundred thousand cedis (GH¢400,000) at concessional rates for SMEs from financial institutions.
“Government is committed to harnessing and harvesting the creativity of the youth into economic dividends. I appeal to them to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them, and make the best for themselves and Mother Ghana,” he added.