UN seeks inclusive youth development in Africa

Rafat Salami, Abuja

The United Nations has asked African countries to invest in its youth population to engender massive development of the continent.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria Ms. Fatma Samoura made the call at the ‘Leadership Summit on Demographic Dividend in Africa’, in Abuja Nigeria’s Capital.

The summit organised by the UNFPA in Nigeria, is attended by nearly 50 university researcher, thought leaders, experts and activists  from across the continent.

Ms Fatma said Africa with an estimated population of 1.2 billion in 2016, is projected to reach 1.9 billion by 2050 most of whom will be young people, blaming lack of adequate programmes and employment on strife on the continent.

According to her Africa’s rapid population growth has implications for peace, security and democratic stability and the progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the continent.  We see most disenfranchised youth joining terrorist/militant groups at alarming rates. Also, recent migration trends underscore the complex development challenges facing the sub-region from the youth bulge, lack of employment opportunities and governance issues that continue to force people to migrate to other countries and regions.’

She said ‘’youth unemployment is hovering above 30% in the region, this trend is unlikely to change in the absence of decent employment opportunities which can only come from fundamental shifts in production patterns and economic structures of the sub-region, to reap demographic dividend in the shortest possible time’’

The UNFPA Resident Representative in Nigeria Ratidzai Ndholovu told the meeting that Africa would need to promote public health, women’s empowerment and choose smaller families to fulfill SDG Agenda 2030.

The UNFPA says the summit will among others, discuss the pathway for an African Demographic Dividend (DD) and develop research and advocacy agenda, strengthen the emerging African platform on DD whereby stakeholders can share DD related research, new data, programmatic outputs and policy activities; among others.

The seminar ends on Wednesday.