The Government of Ghana and the European Union (EU), on Monday signed a financial agreement of Euro 31.6 million for the new Ghana Employment and Social Protection (GESP) Programme in Accra.
The Programme would contribute to inclusive growth in Ghana by strengthening social protection and employment systems in the country.
It also aims at enhancing social protection services notably for vulnerable population groups and at generating decent employment opportunities, with particular attention to the youth.
Mr Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance, said the EU has an impressive record as far as support to Ghana’s development agenda is concerned, and its interventions in the various sectors were highly commendable.
He said the signing of the agreement with the EU was significant and timely because it is the first direct intervention in employment and social protection, saying other previous interventions have been in areas of road infrastructure and rural development.
Mr Terkper said the programme also has macroeconomic significance, by being in line with the policy priorities of both the Ministries of Gender and Social Protection and Employment and Labour Relations.
The programme would also help contribute to the 2016 budget targets through job creation initiatives in respect of both demand and supply sides, decent job opportunities, skills matching, social protection systems, addressing migration challenges and connecting the poor to the growth being generated by this intervention with a view to effectively reduce poverty.
He thanked the EU and it member states for their immense support to the country’s development agenda, saying, he expects that the partnership will further be deepened and broadened over the coming years for their mutual benefit.
Mr William Hanna, EU Ambassador in Ghana, said the programme focuses on people, providing new opportunities, including training and skills for the youth, business development for SME and protection for the most vulnerable.
He said the EU would support Ghana’s own efforts under both ministries, assist the private sector to generate new jobs, and give young people the skills needed to find decent works.
He said the key stakeholders for the programme include the Local Government Service, COTVET, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Association of Ghana Industries, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, GIZ, and Danish International Agency.
Mr Hanna said the EU has already worked in various sectors in Ghana and the GESP Programme, which is supported by all 28 member states, would give people new opportunities and provide technical support to them.
He said one of the biggest challenges facing the continent was illegal migration, saying that the programme would ensure that young people in Ghana do not take the dangerous step towards the Sahara risking their lives by creating new opportunities and livelihoods for them.
He said the money would be disbursed in time to ensure that they are used for their intended purposes and in the interest of the people of Ghana.
The GESP Programme is a four year programme from 2016 to 2020, which would be implemented under four key components including enhanced effectiveness and efficiency of the social protection system and improved employment policy management at central and local levels.
Other components of the programme include strengthening technical and vocational education and improving access to finance and effective business development service.