On Sept. 24, 2022, Global Citizen Festival: Accra lit up the iconic Black Star Square, with some of the world’s leading artists, world leaders, business leaders, philanthropists, and Global Citizens coming together to drive change in the mission to end extreme poverty NOW.
The Global Citizen Festival campaign culminated in $2.4 billion mobilised to help end extreme poverty — including more than $440 million earmarked exclusively to support initiatives to end extreme poverty in Africa.
But as well as this, it was a crucial moment to bring together young Ghanaians to take action for girls, for the planet, and to create change.
In the run up to Global Citizen Festival: Accra, we hosted a series of events to engage young people in Ghana and empower them to take action on the issues they care about most. From beach cleanups, to a Festival of Cultures, to popups with sustainable fashion designers, to a youth forum that culminated in a petition to Ghana’s government highlighting the changes young Ghanaians want to see — Global Citizens got involved in their hundreds.
At these events, we took the opportunity to ask young Ghanaians what issues matter most to them, and what action they want to see to drive real, lasting change in their lives and the lives of their communities. Here’s what they said.
Regina Buabeng is a student of Regional Maritime University in Accra. She wants to see more action taken to combat youth unemployment, which is a huge issue both in Ghana and across the continent. You can find out more about why youth unemployment is such a significant issue across Africa by taking our quiz.
Regina Buabeng is a student in Ghana
Ghana’s youth unemployment rate, according to a 2021 census, is at an all-time high of 13.4% — almost three times higher than in 2010. It’s a worrying trend for soon-to-be graduates like Buabeng, who we caught up with at a beach cleanup we hosted with Plastic Punch Ghana at Regional Maritime University on Sept. 10.
“Thinking about all the money my parents have spent on my education and going out being unemployed makes me feel bad,” she told Global Citizen.
Anita Laryea is an auditor based in Accra and she wants to see more action taken to improve sanitation in Ghana — just like Global Citizen Festival: Accra headliner, Stonebwoy, who is also Ghana’s global ambassador for sanitation.
According to UNICEF, there is still no urban sanitation strategy in Ghana, meaning that various efforts to improve sanitation aren’t being effectively monitored or coordinated. The capital, Accra, continues to battle annual floods which affect lives, health, properties, and businesses. This flooding is partly attributed to the changing climate, but also the issue of improper disposal of waste — with waste, much of it plastic, blocking existing drainage systems.
Anita Laryea is an auditor in Ghana
“You walk around town you see someone drinking water and the person just throws it on the streets,” Laryea said, when we spoke with her at the beach cleanup on Sept. 10. “Some people make rubbish in their houses and throw it in the gutters. It causes the flooding.”
The rains in May and June this year left many parts of Accra and Kumasi flooded, bringing into question the cities’ climate resilience plans.
Frances Quayson highlighted corruption in Ghana’s police service as an issue he wants to see addressed. A survey, released in July 2022 by the Ghana Statistical Service, named the Ghana Police Service as the most corrupt institution in Ghana.
Frances Quayson works in media industry in Ghana
“I work in the media and I have been seeing them taking money anytime I travel from Accra to Takoradi,” Quayson said. “If somebody wants to do something bad they can easily pay and do it.”
Kwaku Kumi, the owner of Gold Coast Tokota, a manufacturer of made-in-Ghana footwear, is concerned about the exchange rate in Ghana and what it means for the financial security of Ghanaians. The continuous weakening of the country’s currency against the US dollar has made it one of the worst-performing currencies in the world, according to Bloomberg.
Kwaku Kumi is an entrepreneur in Ghana
Kumi told us: “I am doing business in Ghana now and, trust you me, the dollar rate is not helping us. It’s not easy to operate a business in Ghana. I am still in business because I am taking that leap of faith that things will change.”
Eugenia Tenkorang, a local journalist, wants to see more action taken to tackle poverty and the impact it’s having on Ghanaians' lives.
In 2022, around 3.4 million people in Ghana are living in extreme poverty — meaning on less than $1.90 a day — and the vast majority of these (about 3.1 million) live in the country’s rural areas.
But while extreme poverty in the country is falling, there are many ways poverty can be experienced beyond the extreme poverty criteria of living on less than $1.90 a day — including being deprived of health, education, living standards, and more.
Eugenia Tenkorang is a journalist in Ghana
According to a 2020 report from the Ghana Statistical Service and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), around 2 in 5 Ghanaians are identified as poor beyond monetary deprivations — or an estimated 14 million Ghanaians who are “multi-dimensionally poor”.
As Tenkorang added: “The level of poverty, which is seen in almost all spheres, really gets to me.”
“Personally, I know a woman who grew up in poverty,” she continued. “She got married and raised all her three children in poverty. The kids have graduated, but have not gotten employed yet. And so, these children, whose parents were looking forward to a brighter future for them, have grown up to continue the poverty cycle.”