Mr. Bakary Dosso, Acting Director and Chief Executive of the Demographic Dynamics for Development (DDD) Section of ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, has said Africa’s huge and diverse population challenges calls for a collective, comprehensive, and coordinated targeted approaches at achieving focused, visible and impactful results to avoid duplication.
He said the essence of the meeting is to enhance interaction among Think Tanks and reaffirm that ECA stands ready to support your efforts to provide countries with innovative populations to make demographic dividend a reality for all countries in Africa.
Mr Dosso was contributing to a webinar of Think Tanks and Expert on “Generational economy and Structural Transformation in COVID 19 era in West Africa.”
The virtual meeting was organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (ECA/SRO-WA), in partnership with the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The objective of this virtual meeting is therefore to explore the link between population dynamics and sustainable development and to identify ways to align demographic change in West Africa with sustainable development objectives.
The focus will be on the COVID-19 pandemic and its likely negative impact on population dynamics and the drivers of the demographic dividend.
He said policies that are essential to the attainment of demographic dividend such as access to quality and affordable health and social protection, quality education and job opportunities for the youth must therefore become a catalyst for development of the teeming population.
He said to underline particularly acute demographic challenges in West Africa and to highlight the close connection between population dynamics and the sustainable development objectives that countries are pursuing; the risk of COVID-19 pandemic could divert efforts away from population policies and increase dependency.
“The population growth in West Africa is estimated at 2.6% in 2020, more than double the world average of 1.04%. While there has been a consistent decline in the population growth in West Africa partly explained by reduced fertility rates, progress is still slow compared to other regions and sub-regions of the world,” he said.
“Given the many challenges associated with population dynamics in West Africa compound by the adverse effects of the Covid-19 crisis, achieving the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2063 agenda for Africa’s aspirations for the future will require a better understanding of the demographic transformations of the region and policies that are essential to the attainment of demographic dividend such as access to quality and affordable health and social protection, quality education and job opportunities for the youth, said Mr Dosso.
Mr. Chris Nikoi, Regional Director for West and Central Africa of the World Food Programme (WFP), called for the need to share experiences and good practices in responses to the social and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and the lessons learned from the various policy responses adopted by countries.
“In the face of a COVID-19 crisis that is as much global as it is regional, it is not only important to have a coalition of partners to measure the long-term macroeconomic impacts but also the social protection provisions needed in the short term, including responding to the resulting humanitarian crisis to provide basic social services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education.”
Mr. David ADEOSUN, Director of Macroeconomic Studies at the Ministry of Budget and Planning of Nigeria, commended the ECA “for its efforts to coordinate a joint and urgent response of our countries to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the various consultations of the Ministers of Finance for a common position on access to concessional loans from the World Bank Group as well as other private financial institutions.”
Representatives of the Regional Economic Communities and Intergovernmental Organizations of West Africa, representatives of the private sector and representatives of the United Nations System as well as academics participated in the virtual meeting.
In view of the many challenges associated with demographic dynamics in West Africa, aggravated by the adverse effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2063 Agenda for Africa’s future aspirations will require a better understanding of the region’s demographic transformations and the policies that are critical to achieving the demographic dividend, such as access to affordable and quality health services and social protection, quality education and employment opportunities for young people.