ACHIEVING DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND: Not automatic, here’s secret

  • UNFPA says it requires multiple investments
  • Hails Summit for demonstrating political will
  • Attributes collective future to how people think

THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Tanzania suggests that the Africa Human Capital Heads of State Summit has demonstrated the political will to ensure the continent reaps big from the benefits of its growing youth population.

UNFPA further noted that the summit revealed investments needed to dismantle the socio-economic and environmental barriers preventing young people from achieving potential and in turn deliver greatest returns.

The UN body as the lead agency for accelerating demographic dividend and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is optimistic that when a youthful population enjoys good health, continuing education and can contribute to economic growth – the national economic payoff will certainly be substantial.

In return, the nations including Tanzania can be able to reap high on their demographic dividends.

UNFPA Representative in Tanzania, Mr  Mark Schreiner revealed this a day after the summit was concluded with participating Heads of State coming out with concrete commitments and a way forward through the adopted ‘Dar es Salaam Human Capital Declaration 2023’.

According to him, the collective future depends on how people think about and respond to the ties between population and development.

“The choices we make will either pave the way for a brighter, more resilient world or lead us towards unprecedented costs and irreversible consequences,” said Mr Schreiner.

He added: “Every nation must put people and their ability to exercise rights and choices at the centre of their development agenda so that there are healthy, empowered, peaceful, resilient and sustainable societies.

The UNFPA country representative indicated that in November 2022, the UN reported that the global population reached 8 billion and the population in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double between 2022 and 2050, putting additional pressure on the already strained resources and challenging policies aimed to reduce poverty and inequalities.

He observed that Tanzania Census of 2022 shows that the country is among the youthful nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a significant portion of its population being young with about 21.3 million aged between 15 to 35 years according to Tanzania Census of 2022.

By this youthful nation investing on its human capital, Mr Schreiner suggested that the national economic payoff can be substantial.  He noted that it was critical to address barriers that prevent women and girls from realising their potentials and deliver ernomous returns for the largest numbers of people, and those most left behind.

Reflecting on President Samia Suluhu Hassan remarks which suggested that “educating our young people on sexual and reproductive health including family planning, is essential for any country to realise its human capital potential and achieve national development aspirations,” he reached out to the countries to build on this vision and make the right choices today for a better tomorrow.

Tragically, the chance to realise one’s potential is often derailed, particularly for millions of girls, who are pushed from school, subjected to child marriage, early and unplanned pregnancies, poor access to health care and limited education.

He, however, observed that achieving a demographic dividend was not automatic – it requires multiple investments.

The most essential are building the capabilities of people to realise their rights and achieving their potentials, meaning immediate investment is needed in employment, education and health, especially sexual and reproductive health.

On his side, a banker and investment analyst Dr Hildebrand Shayo said it is now more critical than ever for African nations to take key measures, which would fully enable them to realise the continent’s human capital potential.

He said for better jobs, equal opportunities and workforce competitiveness, it is essential to develop the skills and promote the technologies of Africans that also include Tanzania.

The continent of Africa is rapidly changing and there is optimism for its future that is reflected in the generally acknowledged economic impetus and growing global attention.

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