Minister calls for efforts to address demographic shift

DAR ES SALAAM: MINISTER for Education, Science, and Technology, Prof. Adolf Mkenda, has urged concerted efforts to assess Tanzania’s current demographic trends and create job opportunities to mitigate potential social unrest stemming from rising youth unemployment.

Speaking at the launch of the 12th Africa Evidence Summit (AES2024) themed “Bolstering African Scholarship to Advance the Impact of Evidence” in Dar es Salaam, Prof. Mkenda highlighted the demographic landscape where youth are poised to dominate the future population.

“We must prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s workforce by ensuring a conducive environment for employment and income generation,” Prof. Mkenda emphasized.

With Tanzania’s current population standing at 61.7 million and fertility rates declining gradually, projections from a World Bank report suggest the population could reach between 120 million (low fertility scenario) and 141 million (high fertility scenario) by 2050.

The Minister underscored the importance of robust policies to drive national development initiatives effectively, noting that demographics, technology, and globalization are pivotal factors in evaluating policy efficacy.

“Failure to address demographic shifts could lead to a surplus of unemployed youth, potentially resulting in social unrest,” Prof. Mkenda warned.

Also read: Encourage girls to study science subjects, Mkenda calls

On the issue of globalization, he acknowledged its benefits but also highlighted potential challenges. “Without strategic planning to leverage global opportunities, we risk becoming overly reliant on imports and missing out on exporting our goods,” he noted.

The Minister stressed on the importance of periodic policy evaluations to gauge effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. He also emphasized on the need for adaptability for desired outcomes.

Prof Mkenda urged for continuous monitoring and assessment of implemented policies, expressing concern over the tendency to enact policies without proper evaluation, a common practice in Tanzanian governance.

Earlier, the Executive Director of the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Prof. Fortunata Makene, applauded African scholars for their contributions in generating and applying relevant evidence to tackle pressing challenges.

“The summit aims to foster dialogues and workshops that explore new avenues for bolstering African scholarship,” Prof. Makene stated.

She said that dedication and intellectual rigor have paved the way for innovative solutions that address some of the most pressing challenges, from public health crises to socio-economic disparities and beyond.

“The two days of the summit will engage in thought-provoking dialogues, interactive workshops, and collaborative sessions aimed at exploring new avenues for bolstering African scholarship,” she added.

On her part, Centre for Effective Global Action (CEGA), Executive Director, Ms Carson Christiano said the summit is part of a rapidly growing movement dedicated to evidence-informed policy in Africa which each year has gotten bigger and more inclusive.

“It’s really exciting to see how many African scholars are now generating cuttingedge research and influencing policy, while the demand for evidence from policymakers, practitioners, and donors continues to grow,” Ms Carson said.

She said the main goals of CEGA include elevating the voices of African scholars in research and policy debates, disseminating exciting new research findings and inspiring new research collaborations.

The Summit is an annual in-person gathering that brings together East and West African scholars (including CEGA fellows), U.S.-based faculty, and global policymakers and practitioners to discuss the latest evidence on economic development and poverty alleviation in Africa.

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