Mr Teshome Yeshaneh, the Programme Specialist, Population and Development of UNFPA, said investment in youths would determine the development trajectory of Africa over the next 50 years.
Yeshaneh said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja in commemoration of World Population Day.Observed annually on July 11, the day was fixed by the Governing Council of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in 1989 to raise awareness about global population issues.No specific theme was declared for the 2019 World Population Day but the day calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.
The programme specialist said that the large population among youths in Africa, if well harnessed, would spur the continent to greater economic achievements.
He said that the major objective behind observing World Population Day was to focus on the consequences of increasing population and how it affects the overall development plans and programmes.
Yeshaneh added that African youths account for more than 60 per cent of the continent’s population, adding that it was a huge resource if adequately harnessed by ensuring meaningful participation and empowerment of African youths.
According to him, investment in youths who represent Africa’s greatest asset, will determine the development trajectory of Africa over the next 5o years and will position the `Africa We Want’.
He said “the UN World Population Prospects (2015 revision) stated that the continent’s population reached 1.2 billion in 2015.
“This was however projected to grow rapidly, reaching 1.7 billion in 2030 and more than double by 2050, to 2.5 billion in 2050 and three billion in 2063.”
He explained that global population would further increase from 16 per cent in 2015 to more than 29 per cent in 2063.
Yeshaneh said that given proper investments, the population would play an important role in facilitating high and inclusive growth and poverty reduction.
He explained that the AU road map on harnessing demographic dividends through investing in youths highlighted four pillars that critical to increasing investments in youths.
They include: employment and entrepreneurship, education and skill development, health and wellbeing, rights, governance, as well as youth empowerment.
He said “Africa spends about 30 billion dollars importing processed foods every year, which could create about five million jobs by just transforming natural minerals by five per cent.
“Investment in good health is key to reducing youth vulnerability, access to sexual and reproductive health particularly family planning and lowering mortality and fertility.
“Others include eliminating gender inequality that impede women’s right to decide the number and spacing of their children, child survival focusing on prevention of infectious diseases, immunisation and improved nutrition.
“Improving access to quality education that matched labour market demand, while putting in place macroeconomic measures that would facilitate job creation and entrepreneurship.”
He called on African leaders to invest in harnessing demographic dividends through investing in youths, while investing in health, empowerment and education.