Professor Dzodzi Tsikata, the Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, has called for a change in the country’s economic and social protection policies, which relied on the export of primary agricultural commodities.
She, therefore, advocated for a radical rethinking that would add value to the agricultural commodities and natural resources locally to create sufficient jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.
She said it was prudent for the nation to transition from the current agrarian society into a mixed economy, with a strong industrial and agricultural base that would engender economic growth.
Prof. Tsikata made the call at a public lecture held at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on the theme: “Addressing the Crisis of Work in Ghana: What Role for Transformative Social Policy?”
The lecture sought to achieve greater balance between labour, work and pressing issues in the economy.
Prof. Tsikata used the platform to discuss the contours of the work crisis in Ghana, examined the challenges of the current regime of social protection and made recommendations for transformative social policy, which would support and sustain the normalisation of decent work and diversified workforce.
“There is an ongoing global crisis of work from which Ghana is not exempted. It has common manifestation such as the growing informalisation and precarity of work, the overthrow of the Fordist Model of assembly of work and an increase in global migration.
“The main factors fuelling the crisis are the neo-liberal turn in economic policies, which has resulted in jobless economic growth over the last four decades,” she said.
Prof. Tsikata said though the agricultural sector employed the largest segment of the people, it was characterised by low productivity, indebtedness, poor work conditions and low earnings.
The current unemployment situation, she said, could also be attributed to the country’s location in the global economic order as a source of primary agricultural commodities and natural resources.
It could also be attributed to the restructuring of the economy as a result of agricultural stagnation, deindustrialization and the expansion of the services and natural resource extraction.
Prof. Tsikata, therefore, encouraged smallholder farmers to go into agro-industries, which would enable them to create the needed enterprises to employ more people.