African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development have recognised the importance for the continent to introduce immediate measures to capitalize on its demographic dividend.
This should be done through increased and sustained investments in health and education, particularly for women, the girl-child, the youth and disadvantaged social groups with a view to enhancing the continent’s competitive advantages, the ministers said on Tuesday in a ministerial statement adopted at the end of a two-day conference in Abidjan.
The Ministers met for the joint African Union (AU) and UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development looking at “Industrialization for an emerging Africa.”
The Ministers said these investments should be further enhanced by the adoption of appropriate social, urban planning and macroeconomic policies.
The conference also tackled substantive policy issues related to the needed response from Africa to realise its demographic dividend. Experts argued that Africa is today well positioned to create the opportunity for a demographic dividend and develop an environment to capitalise on the economic benefits of the demographic dividend.
While Africa has the demographic and economic potential to harness the demographic dividends, relevant investment strategies need to be defined and prioritised to address the challenges the continent faces before the window of opportunity closes.
Experts at the conference observed that in most African countries, the pace of fertility decline has been too slow to yield the necessary age structure changes and may be too slow to ever realise demographic dividend and also that the continent’s substantial population growth has created a large youth population rapidly approaching working-age, without favourable work opportunities or labor outlook.
The conference, which has become the premier forum on the continent for African Ministers responsible for Finance, Planning and Economic Development as well as governors of central banks, is aimed at discussing issues pertinent to the African development agenda.