The Security Threat
of Unemployment in Ghana
The definition of “National Security” is ever changing, as
its framework is based on the study of human evolution and behaviour. There
have been many factors serving as contributors to the threats to states and
population, including both human-made (e.g. terrorism) as well as natural
hazards with the two, sometimes interacting (shortage of a natural resource
creating violence or indeed foreign intervention).
Similarly, unemployment is the source of a series of social
and, in extension, political problems a country, any country can face.
Unemployment is an indicator of several possible malfunctions and lawlessness
as far as public policy or the very structure of a society and an economy are
concerned. The relatively high rates of criminal activities, and the consequent
state failure which increases the risk to national security could be
exceedingly attributed to the high unemployment rate in the country.
The causal link between unemployment and crime has been highlighted
by many criminologists, even though some believe it’s a thin line. According to
Watts, R. et al., 2008, in their book titled; International Criminology; A Critical Introduction, they emphasised
that a nation increasing crimes and violence rates would only be reversed if
new employment programmes were established and existing ones extended and if
there was greater social equity and justice. It further reiterated that;
unemployment and financial hardship encourage people to commit a crime to
alleviate their material hardship.
It was further echoed by Glover, C., 2013, in his book, Crime and Inequality, that unemployment
and material deprivation cause one to engage in crimes and violence.
It is highly likely today that many people in Ghana would
accept as a matter of common sense, that unemployment causes crime.
Unemployment causes poverty, and that destitution creates
insecurity. In a nation where many people are unemployed, they would be poor;
and debt would lead to the vulnerability of lives and property as the people’s
capacity to engage themselves meaningfully in the nation’s socio-economic
process would be highly reduced. They would channel their energies to
unorthodox methods as crimes to eke out a living for themselves, and as they do
this, they endanger lives and property in the society and raise the cost of
governance. It is therefore paramount to reconsider restructuring of the nation’s
socio-economic processes and policies to reduce poverty and unemployment and to
accommodate the less privileged and unemployed members of the society to
achieve national security.
The World Bank in its current report on jobs in Ghana has
disclosed that about 48 percent of the youth in the country, who are between
15-24 years do not have jobs. The report further questioned the country’s
preparedness in dealing with the youth bulge in the coming decades.
Poverty and unemployment as social problems have remained a
significant developmental challenge for many countries for a long time, which
could severely impact on the countries security and Ghana is no exception. The
current happenings in the country are a significant indicator of the rise in
unemployment, with individuals being easily persuaded to engage in criminal
activity, including extremist’s acts.
ISIS men arrested with
grenades at Odorkor
Armed robbers overrun
Kwabenya Police Station to free colleagues, and killing a police officer on
Bantama records increasing
Aflao: 13 suspected
robbers arrested, 15 arrested over Lapaz police killing, to mention but a few.
These headings in the news are all indicators that the
government should grab the bull by the horn and implement employment
opportunities for the youth.
Armed robbers overrun Kwabenya
Police Station to free their colleagues, and killed a police officer on duty;
this is a dangerous attack on the nation’s security forces. It must be
emphasised that this was a well planned and executed attack on the police by
these “so-called robbers”. My experience highlights that before such
an attack could be carried out, some form of surveillance must have been
carried out to ascertain who, will be there at the time of the shooting or was
there inside information, detailing the ins and outs of the police station.
Asking such questions would help zero in the type of criminals that the police
are up against.
Time has changed, so have these
criminals, Ghana police must change its traditional ways of going about its
business. This means more training by competent and updated persons to
build their capacity and be given the necessary tools and logistics; be equipped
with modern gadgetry including communication devices and transport to intensify
their operations. I recall when The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had
to change its Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP’s) to marry up with the
changes of the enemy combatants (Taliban) used on the battlefields at the time.
Majority of these
‘so-called criminals’ can easily be a recruitment target for radical groups. The
fact is that if these youths have alternative means of livelihood or are
gainfully employed in the economy, most of them would not take part in these
criminal activities. The most disturbing aspect of this phenomenon is that some
of those involved in these crimes are educated. The worst thing that would ever
happen to a nation is for its educated citizens to be unemployed and be
involved in crimes, such as cyber-crimes and advanced-fee fraud.
The plague of unemployment has ravaged several nations of
the world in different dimensions and shades. However, in Ghana, the
unemployment challenge is captured by the growing number of unemployed youth
roaming the streets all over the country, with over 84,000 applicants applying
for only 500 available positions.
To tackle the problems of poverty and unemployment in the
country and the associated security challenges they pose. There should be a
need for paradigm shift in the outlook of our leaders; a review of some of our
national policies; and a review of our educational curriculum with the view of
making Ghanaians imbibe the philosophy of transparency, accountability and
self-reliance. This would help to reduce the security challenges posed by
unemployment and the poverty in the country.
National security, poverty and unemployment are the most
prominent problems facing most nations of the world today, whether they are
developed or developing. They are impediments to social progress and leads to
waste of human and material resources. It is important for these issues to be
addressed, as security strategies remain incomplete without addressing poverty
and unemployment as a nation.
The causal links between unemployment, poverty and national
security cannot be under-estimated. The earlier the government starts addressing
the issue of unemployment and poverty in the country, the earlier it will help
gradually reduce the security challenges posed to achieve stable political
governance in the country. It would also promote sustained, inclusive and
sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for
all to fulfil the United Nation’s Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).
The socio-economic conditions would easily entice the youth
to turn to conflicts, extremism, and crimes as a means of livelihood,
threatening national security; if these issues are not addressed.
About the writer
Gerald Sintim-Aboagye is a former British Army Official and
the Director of S4L Consult, a policy consulting firm that provides security to
individuals, corporate institutions and other security agencies.
He served for over a decade in the British Army and has a
wealth of experience in foreign relations, peacekeeping, security, and
counter-terrorism measures after on-duty tours to Afghanistan, Iraq and many
He’s currently an MA Student at Staffordshire University,
U.K majoring in Terrorism, Crime and Global Security.
focus is to provide expert advice in tackling some of the impending threats on
the Africa continent and in mobilising the grassroots to curb the unrest and
the risk of conflicts, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.