Thursday 26 January 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Investment in family planning, girls and young women, and investments in young people are crucial elements in Africa’s quest to harnessing the demographic dividend. Mr. Lucien Kouakou, the IPPFAR Regional Director says the potential of Africa to achieve its desired development status will be enhanced if countries place more emphasis on the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of its citizens, with a particular emphasis on young people.
“When the sexual reproductive health rights of adolescents and young people are protected, then they are better placed to make informed and responsible decisions about their lives. This enables them to stay healthy, avoid unwanted pregnancies, prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV, stay in school longer and complete their education. They are also better placed to obtain the skills that will enable them to become economically productive. The result will be a generation of empowered people who have the number of children they want, and who they are able to adequately provide and care for. Investing in the reproductive health of young people is indeed a great way for African countries to accelerate their development,” he says.
While noting the relation between demographic dynamics, economic growth and national development, as well as Africa’s goals towards realization of the Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals, Mr. Kouakou alludes to the concerted effort of all stakeholders in this regard.
“African citizens, governments, Civil Society Organizations, national and international development organizations, partners, African Parliamentarians and other stakeholders all play vital roles towards Africa’s development.”
Mr. Kouakou made these remarks while addressing members of the Forum of African Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FPA) during a side event ahead of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He particularly stressed on the need for African Legislators to increase their commitment towards the implementation of the African Union roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend, and their collaborative efforts with local partners to ensure that the demographic dividend messages are domesticated –up to the grassroots level.
During the International Conference of Parliamentary Networks on Population and Development held in Dakar, Senegal in November 2016, African Parliamentarians committed to supporting the implementation of the four pillars of the African Union road map; “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”. The road map factors in the need to transform the potential of Africa’s large youth population into a demographic dividend. It focuses on four pillars that are critical to increasing investments in youth, driving change and positioning African countries on the path towards harnessing the demographic dividend.
The four pillars include:
- Employment and entrepreneurship
- Education and skills development
- Health and well-being, and
- Rights, governance and youth employment
The IPPFAR Regional Director congratulated the Parliamentarians for their assurances taking action geared at harnessing the demographic dividend.
“It is inspiring to observe the dedication of our Parliamentarians, who are committed to the realization of the improved livelihoods of our African people, and more so their continued call for more investments in youth and their sexual reproductive health and rights,” he said.
Mr. Kouakou reiterated IPPFAR’s commitment to supporting African Parliamentarians in this cause, and reaffirmed the organization’s pledge to working with other development partners, including UNFPA and the African Union Commission –whom he congratulated for their dedication to the youth and demographic dividend theme this year.
Hon. Marie-Rose Nguini Effa, the FPA chairperson reiterated the body’s commitment to championing the demographic dividend cause at the national and regional levels, and thanked the various organizations supporting them with this regard.
“We recognize the critical link between the population of a country and its ability to achieve sustainable economic development, and that the youth are the most important driving force of sustainable development and demographic transition of the continent. We thank organizations such as the African Union Commission, IPPFAR, UNFPA and the Japan Trust Fund (JTF) for their continued support," she said.
IPPFAR is the leading sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service delivery organization in Africa, and the leading sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy voice in the region.