Former President John Dramani Mahama has bemoaned the inability of graduates to find jobs in their native African countries even though the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the continent keeps rising.
Mr Mahama, who is seeking to unseat President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2020, told a gathering at a seminar on the theme: “Democracy & Elections in Contemporary Africa” at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, UK, on Friday, 10 May 2019, that: “Africa has a burgeoning population; economic growth is not translating into jobs as fast as it is necessary to keep up with population growth”.
He said it is estimated that about 12 million graduates are churned out yearly from tertiary institutions in Africa and yet “less than 5 million sustainable job places are available for them each year”.
He indicated that despite the significant achievements chalked by the continent, “African democracy is still fragile and faces many challenges. The dividends of democracy are still not immediately tangible to the African population”.
He cited major inequalities and unfair enjoyment of the fruits of economic growth by different classes in African countries.
“Many vulnerable groups are losing out while the affluent of the growing prosperous classes is being flaunted in their faces,” he said.
He was of the view that the result is the questioning of the need for citizens to exercise their democratic right during elections “when they feel no tangible improvements in their lives”.
He was worried that social safety nets have not been effective to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich, leading to democracy fatigue.
For him, democracy should move beyond elections of different groups into governance positions and should be about improvement in people’s lives, access to social services, jobs and employment, social justice, fight against corruption and establishment of strong institutions.