West Africa has multiple challenges. With slow economic growth averaging 2.5 per cent in recent years, the region also has high population growth and the incidence of poverty in the region exceeds 40 per cent. These facts were contained in the opening remarks of Mr. Bakary Dosso, the Director of the West Africa sub-Regional Office of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the start of a validation meeting of a Study on the implementation of a Centre on Demographic Dynamics for Development in West Africa Tuesday April 23, 2019 in Accra.
He indicated that the creation of the Center in West Africa is part of the ECA’s new strategic orientations which implementation has started in January this year.
“This reform is in line with the UN global reform,” he added.
He also stated that the overarching objective of the ECA reform is to reposition the organization to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and on the African Union Agenda 2063.
He said the ECA reform will reinforce its three core functions: offering a convening platform for both intergovernmental and multi-stakeholders discussions on key development priorities; delivering integrated policy advice through its think tank function; providing normative support and technical capacity on regional and national priorities; “To operationalize the work of its five Sub-Regional Offices, thematic areas of specialization have been identified for each of the subregion: sustainable employment creation (North Africa); economic diversification (Central Africa); implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) (East Africa); and inclusive industrialization (Southern Africa) and Demographic dynamics for development (West Africa),” he said.
Mr. Dosso noted that the West African sub-region is at the forefront of issues related to population dynamics and development.
“The sub-region has experienced a slow pace of economic growth in recent years, averaging 2.5 per cent economic growth. The proportion of people in precarious employment stood around 73 per cent. The incidence of poverty exceeds 40 per cent in the area, except for Cape Verde (31.8 per cent) and Ghana (38.6 per cent). The population of the sub-region is very young with 44 per cent of individuals under 15 years of age,” he said, adding that the region’s fertility rate reached 5.5 children per woman in 2015 when the sub-region is home of the country which have the highest fertility rate in the world (7.6 children per woman).
“The West African sub-region will represent nearly 8 per cent of the world’s population by 2050. In other words, nearly one in 12 people will be living in West Africa in just over 30 years,” he said.
According to him, the ECA commissioned a study to take stock and analyse the DDD activities in the sub-region, in terms of supply and to come up with a strategic orientation and a business plan for the Centre, covering the period 2019-2022, so as to operationalize the DDD Center in West Africa.
In her remarks, Dr, Leticia Appiah, the Executive Director of the National Population Council, Ghana urged African countries to reap the benefits of their demographic dividends. “That’s why they are dividends,” she said, adding that Africans should ensure that their governments fulfil their mandates of working to make their lives better.
The meeting is being attended by delegates from the region.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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