Definition of Youth

According to Ghana’s national youth policy (2010), youth is defined as those between 15-35 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • --
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • --

  • No data for marriage with parental consent. No specific legislation for female homosexual acts, which are legal. Male homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age


A minor is defined as a person below eighteen years of age. Source: Constitution of Ghana (Amended) (1996)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 91.32% Male (15-24) %
  • 89.86% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 52.72%Male %
  • 50.18% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 14.10% Male (13-15) %
  • 10.60% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Ghana adopted its latest national youth policy in 2010, focused on youth empowerment.

The theme of the National Youth Policy of Ghana (2010) is “towards an empowered youth, impacting positively on national development”. The policy covers 19 areas, including:

  • Education & Skills Training;
  • Youth in Modern Agriculture;
  • Gender Mainstreaming;
  • Youth in Conflict Prevention & Peace-Building.
Key stakeholders include the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Youth Council (now called the National Youth Authority), youth associations, and international development partners. It is to be implemented through an action plan outlining timeframes and budgets. The 2014 Budget Statement mentions that an action plan and youth law are slated for 2014. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ghana is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The National Youth Authority (NYA), formally called the National Youth Council (NYC), is an agency within the Ministry of Youth and Sports that is responsible for coordinating and facilitating youth development activities in Ghana. Established in 1974, its mandate is to “ensure the empowerment of the Ghanaian youth”.

Its Annual Workplan for the NYA - 2014 lists key activities and projects that will be undertaken, such as building a new database of youth groups, training youth workers on prevention of substance abuse, and organising a Presidential Youth Dialogue.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
It is unclear what youth representation structures exist at the national level. According to a 2012 profile on youth and civic participation, youth and student groups were organized under the Federation of Youth Associations in Ghana (FEDYAG). However the group has no online presence, and no indication that it is still in operation.

Ghana is a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council, however its membership is not through a youth representation structure, but rather the National Youth Authority (NYA), a governmental agency within the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
GHS 10.2 million
USD 3.7 million
According to the 2014 estimates for the budget of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, “Youth Services” will be allocated GHS 10.2 million (USD 3.7 million). According to the World Bank, Ghana spent 24.38% of its government expenditure and 5.54% of its GDP on education provision in 2010. It spent 8.14% of its GDP on education in 2011, but the World Bank does not calculate what this translates to in terms of percentage of government expenditure.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From the National Youth Authority (NYA) website (2014):
For decades, the population of Ghana has been relatively youthful. According to figures from the recently published Population and Housing Census in Ghana, the population growth rate between 2000 and 2010 was 28.1% (Ghana Statistical Service, 2010). The National Population Council observes that although the population of young people is projected to decline in the near future, their continued increase in absolute numbers after 2025 poses a challenge to the country. [...]
A World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who joined rebel movements said they were motivated by lack of jobs.
From Mainstreaming Youth: The Key to Effective Youth Development (2011):
Successive governments in Ghana have focused on economic empowerment as the key to youth development; apparently due to the alarming unemployment rate. However, this approach has failed. In spite of the numerous youth development initiatives by government and its agencies, non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, youth groups and other civil society organisations, these initiatives are not implemented within any clear framework with specific national goals on youth development. Such programmes and projects were also poorly coordinated and as a result achieved limited impact and gave room for duplication of efforts and activities.
The absence of a national youth platform where young people's capacities could be built to engage in governance has also been a key challenge. Even though young people are represented on some state boards and committees there have been practical difficulties.
In recognition of the need to adopt a holistic approach to youth development in Ghana, government launched a youth policy in August, 2010 which sets clear youth development objectives and priority areas. [...]
The availability of young people for participation can equally be problematic since many are in school while others are in employment. One other difficulty is the identification of legitimate youth representatives since there are many youth groups. The challenges are complicated by the deep political polarisation on the youth front where some young people are unable to separate youth interests from political affiliations.   In Ghana for instance, students are represented on some national boards by law. Examples of such boards are the Ghana Education Trust Fund, the Student Loan Trust Fund Board as well as the National Youth Council Board. In our universities too, students are represented on several boards and committees. We can address the problem of representation by building an effective and to some extent independent National Youth Commission which will register all youth groups at the national regional and district levels to be duly recognised as such.