It might not have been a holiday destination for the British royal couple, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. From all indications, however, they had a jolly time, combining leisure at British James Town, sampling and dancing to authentic highlife tunes at a state banquet and enjoying rich culture in Kumasi and even visiting a cocoa farm in Ashanti.
But behind the scenes, serious business of finding solutions to threats of youth unemployment and the sustainability of our ecosystem were clear on Prince Charles’ mind.
I have followed the British royal family for over four decades because of my affinity for royalty home and abroad. And so the announcement of Prince Charles’s visit to Ghana generated excitement in me since I did not have the opportunity to observe his last visit in 1977.
My heightened excitement and expectation had more to do with what business opportunities the heir apparent to the British throne and future head of the Commonwealth of Nations had to share with a very old ally, Ghana.
Retinue of issues
The media reports on the four-day royal visit show significant direction for the better as we look for closer collaboration rather than dependency.
And so, at the Young Entrepreneurs Forum which took place on day three of the visit, one followed with keen interest issues highlighted by His Royal Highness at the forum. He raised quite pertinent issues on productive youth engagement, unemployment, environmental pollution and the threat they pose to countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, Ghana not excepted. I thought he hit the nail right on the head because these are some of the critical issues on our plate here at home.
Exciting, however, is the Prince of Wales’ call for a closer collaboration among Commonwealth countries to help address some of the challenges and minimise their impact. Coming from the seat of the Head of the Commonwealth, Prince Charles was dead on point especially on the issue of plastic pollution. This is not only a concern for Commonwealth countries but a global canker posing a greater threat to aquatic life.
Using statistics to prove his point, he said a whopping eight million tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans every year. This is a big threat to the blue economy including employment generation.
In Ghana, the danger of plastic pollution has stared in our face for far too long with no end in sight. Related environmental and health threats multiply daily for as long as we continue to produce and import non-degradable plastic materials for food and other packaging.
With sea pollution, our fisherfolk have had cause to complain on countless occasions. They go to sea and come back with catches of plastic waste and very little fish. A drive along the beach road in Accra opposite the Fire Service Training School, for example, points to the fact. One sees unsightly heaps of plastic waste brought ashore by the fisher folks. The phenomenon would eventually collapse not only aquatic life but the ripple effect of the loss of jobs and the livelihood of the many that are in the fish and allied industries.
His Royal Highness highlighted another threat which the Commonwealth of Nations should turn serious attention to and work together as governments to minimise it. He pointed out that the Commonwealth has a combined population of two billion under the age of 30 years. Though this could be good news looking into a sustainable youthful future, it is also a threat to unemployment among the youth and the ramifications that go with it if governments do not put deliberate focus on job generation, including entrepreneurship.
Youth unemployment is a security risk for countries. It is, for example, fuelling mass migration for seemingly greener pastures. Those who engage in it risk many perils including death. If we work together to fix our economies, our youth would have a better future staying at home and contributing to development.
The Prince of Wales definitely left us with challenges to be attended to. From where he sits, he has given us clues as to how we could coexist to create common wealth for all people within our Commonwealth of Nations. The world now is more of collaboration and partnerships. No one country can do it alone.
Prince Charles’s visit should mean a lot to us. He and his wife came; they enjoyed and danced to our highlife; worshipped God on our soil, by courtesy of Accra Ridge Church, witnessed our rich traditional culture and shared fun with acrobatic young talented youth displaying their X-Factor.
In all that, he left us with the advice to collaborate. The challenge should not be lost on us.
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