To better understand the problem, let’s look at the figures.
Only 28.6% of Ghana’s labour force is comprised of skilled workers. This clearly shows an educational problem. Access to primary education is now universal in Ghana. Access to secondary education is still limited – only 72% of the secondary school-age population is enrolled in secondary school. This means that more than a quarter of the children who attain primary education do not have further access to secondary education. Free SHS will partially solve this problem, but this is not enough.
Because the real problem comes with tertiary education. Only 16% of the tertiary school-age population is enrolled in tertiary education. In advanced countries, the percentage ranges from 60% to 100%. (The data above are taken from here: http://www.hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/GHA) Without significant access to tertiary education, no country can grow.
Ghana’s research and development expenditure as a percentage of GDP is 0.37%. The world’s expenditure is 2.27% (World Bank data).
Only 39% of Ghanaians have access to internet, when almost half of the world population is using the internet. In advanced countries, the percentage is at least 80% (World Bank data). In 2019, Ghana had only 1,369 secure internet servers (compared to 2,761 in 2016). Ghana’s ICT goods exports represented only 0.024% of total goods exports in 2019 (a decline from 0.09 in 2016). Only 13 Ghanaians made a patent application in 2019 – in advanced countries the number is much higher. (All the data above is provided by the World Bank.)
When it comes to internet, ICT goods and patent applications, Ghana not only lags far behind the advanced nations, it also moves backwards (see the number of secure internet servers or the percentage of ICT goods exports, for instance).
Now, imagine a different Ghana. A Ghana where 50% of the labour force is comprised of skilled people. A Ghana where 60% of the tertiary school-age population is enrolled in tertiary education. A Ghana spending at least 1% of its GDP on research and development. A Ghana where at least 1,000 patent applications are made each year. A Ghana with 100,000 secure internet servers. A Ghana where ICT goods exports represent at least 5% of total goods exports.
This would be a thriving Ghana, a vibrant Ghana, a Ghana where every Ghanaian business and every Ghanaian individual is connected to the entire world. A smart Ghana, with an economy based on the production and distribution of high value-added goods and services – not like today’s Ghana, where the economy is based on the mere exploitation of natural resources, on labour-intensive activities and cheap labour.
If we want to live in this different Ghana, we understand easily why today’s Ghana needs change – and, first and foremost, a change in vision.