The visit of the US President Barack Obama to Ghana has been considered a big boost to the efforts of the youth who have for long been thought of as either lacking focus or opportunities to grow.

In his inspirational speech to Parliament last Saturday, Mr Obama must have indeed introduced a new catalyst into efforts by the young people of Africa – and for that matter Ghana – to make real their dreams.

President Obama said:

…So I believe that this moment is just as promising for Ghana and for Africa as the moment when my father came of age and new nations were being born. This is a new moment of great promise. Only this time, we’ve learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future. Instead, it will be you — the men and women in Ghana’s parliament — the people you represent. It will be the young people brimming with talent and energy and hope who can claim the future that so many in previous generations never realized.

“Now, to realize that promise, we must first recognize the fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: Development depends on good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That’s the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.

In a special panel discussion on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday, the youth in Ghana told what they made of Mr Obama’s speech.

Youth in Ghana must lead the fight for Africa’s renaissance said Papa Kow Acquaye, Head of Talk Programmes, Joy FM.

“The core of Obama’s speech is that considering the level of promise that we have, we have not fully fulfilled that promise; the older generations have done theirs but then we need transformational leadership. And it is the youth, uncorrupted with the nuances of the system who make that transformation. So what Obama was calling for is transformational leadership above just pushing pen, having a job and living a comfortable life.

This is a country that has retrogressed on every single human indicator of living.”

Harry Amoah Oppong, a marketing executive

“We have more than what it takes [to succeed]. The Ghanaian youth today are very talented, very experienced; they have access to a lot of information. The bit of his speech that keeps on echoing in my mind is the fact that no matter where we are, whatever thing we may do makes as much impact as whatever is happening in Moscow or Rome or Washington. It’s about time that we put this at the back of our minds to harness the knowledge that we’ve acquired in school and then make something for ourselves.”

Esi Cleland, an advertising executive

“There are a lot of people doing great things over there; we just don’t know them. What I am proposing is that we build a strong campaign, call it 300 Strong for Ghana. And by strong I mean people who are brimming with hope who are talented, who are doing things in their communities to effect change and throw it out to all Ghanaians between the ages of 20 and 30. So if you’re doing anything that you know that impacts Ghana, there are spots of them.

“I think it is important to showcase the people who are doing things. The power is that you give them an image; you give them a role model. You give them a 25-year-old who is a social entrepreneur – does something that addresses a social need – and when you do that they see themselves in that person and then they say that wow! I too can do that.

“I think we need a new kind of politics. I don’t think what we need right now is NDC and NPP, we need something beyond that; we need people who are going to look at the issues and think beyond party lines.”

“I believe that our genius as a generation is finding ways around the impossible, because you cannot say that the system is not working so I’m going to sit. You find innovative ways around them.”

Anne Sackey, Multi Choice

“But there are not that many people who are really focused on building this nation or contributing to the nation. People seem to be more interested in what they can achieve or gain for themselves. I think our generation and the younger ones are a little bit more complacent and I think it is from what is instilled in them as children from the home, what is taught to them in school and what they themselves genuinely desire to do.

Listeners who called into the programme expressed various views. But for most of them what would define the renaissance of Africa is improving the human capital of the youth – investment in education, skills training and the confidence to take the first step.

Only last week, Multimedia CEO, Mr. Kwasi Twum, was celebrating the youth as the great minds to champion the development of the nation. This was on the occasion of the launching of Multi TV, the newest addition to the Multimedia string of media outlets.

Describing Multi TV as “Another Amazing Grace product,” Mr. Twum said it took the can-do attitude, the creativity and diligence of young Ghanaians to bring the dream of establishing Multi TV to fruition in spite of challenging technical, financial and skills constraints, explaining that when the idea of establishing the multiple channel, digital free television service was first mooted, some local TV professionals and some established European broadcast technicians had advised that it was impossible “because of the sheer magnitude of financial resources required, the complexity of the digital technology, the paucity of local technical capability, and the lack of sophistry of the Ghanaian market.”

“It took the likes of Abdulai Awudu, Kojo Baidoo, Patrick Ayivor, Daniel Tachie, to mention a few… I mean young Ghanaians to achieve this great feat. The story of Multi TV today is a toast to young Ghanaians that given a great vision, an exciting purpose, skills development and training and proper guidance, they can achieve great results even with limited resources. Indeed, the Multi TV project was executed by mostly young men and women under 40.”

Read Kwasi Twum’s views on the youth.

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