Empowered youths would guarantee Africa’s development – UNFPA
Mr Bunmi Makinwa, Director of United Nations Population Fund, Africa Regional Office, has stated that Africa can only achieve sustainable development if the right dosage of investment went into the empowerment of the continent’s youths.
He said it was important to invest in young people and involve them in population growth management, climate change and mitigation strategies since it could help better manage population, green economy and technological innovations.
Mr Makinwa made the observation in a speech read for him by Mr Faustin Yao, Director of UNFPA, Africa Sub-regional Office, during the Second Dialogue and Retreat of Southern Civil Society Organisation and Africa Regional Consultation with Civil Society and Youth on International Conference on Population Development beyond 2014, in Accra.
The meeting on the theme, “Access, Effectiveness, Results and Accountability: Deepening Southern Engagement in the Global environment”, was to identify strategic areas and directions for capacity enabling, institutional strengthening, advocacy and accountability actions for Southern Civil Society at country and global levels.
It would provide the most authoritative picture of the state of population and development in 2014 and beyond and the outcome report would serve as a major reference point for discussing, implementing and monitoring population and development policies and programmes beyond 2014.
Mr Makinwa noted that over the years, young people had shown that they could effectively contribute to the promotion of human rights, accountability and good governance.
“With an asset of youthful population, this is the time for Africa to invest in young people and address their socio-economic needs to ensure that this asset does not turn into a handicap,” he said.
Mr Makinwa noted that Africa had a youthful population which had been estimated to reach 22 per cent of the global population by 2050 if the number and proportion continued to grow in the near future.
He said about 300 million children would be added to the school-age population of Africa by 2050.
Mr Makinwa said such situation had had a direct impact on education, health and other infrastructure adding, the enrolment rate in secondary schools was still low particularly for girls.
“For example, in Niger, the literacy rate for young girls was only 23 per cent against 52 per cent for young boys. Furthermore, less than one in 10 young girls in Niger is enrolled in secondary school,” he said.
Mr Makinwa said another critical issue facing the continent was adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
He explained that the highest adolescent birth rate which was more than 150 per 1,000 were found in 10 Sub-Saharan African countries including Angola, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda and Zambia.
Mr Makinwa pledged UNFPA’s commitment to continue to empower young people in Africa to exercise their rights for the promotion of sustainable development.