Experts: A Quality Population for Africa Is Possible

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In short
But demographers and economists say that this can only happen when deliberate work is done to improve health care, education and focusing on job creation to lower unemployment.

A quality population in Africa is possible if governments make efforts towards achieving a demographic dividend, experts attending the 6th annual meeting for the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa in Abidjan, Ivory Coast have noted. The demographic dividend refers to a situation where a country’s population structure changes to have less younger, dependent people and more older, working class ones, to improve a country’s economy and people’s quality of life.

The 2013 meetings of the Ministers of Economy and Ministers of Finance and Economic Development are focusing on industrialization for an emerging Africa. But demographers and economists say that this can only happen when deliberate work is done to improve health care, education and focusing on job creation to lower unemployment. James Gribble, the Vice President in charge of International Programs at the US-based Population Reference Bureau cites investments in child-survival programs in the health sector as one among other areas.

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He adds that to industrialize the continent, job creation must be at the forefront.

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Africa’s youth population is estimated at about 200 million. According to information released by the International Labour Organization in 2012, about 78 million of these between 15 and 24 years of age are unable to find jobs.

Dr. Maxwell Mkwezalamba, the Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the African Union, says efforts are already underway at the AU, to work towards skills development and job creation to improve the quality of the population.

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A total of 78 percent of Ugandans are said to be under the age of 30 and 52 percent below 15 years of age according to the State of Uganda Population Report 2012.

The Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2011 shows some improvements in areas that contribute to a quality population. For instance, the infant mortality rate decreased from 143 deaths for every 1000 live-births in the 2006 survey, to 125 deaths. Despite this,Uganda—and many other African countries—still have a long way to go, towards realizing a demographic dividend.