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Think Tanks in West Africa meet to discuss economy and transformation of the region as COVID-19 pandemic rages

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Bakary Dosso

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continuous to be felt in the West African region, there are concerns that the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2063 Agenda for Africa’s future will be jeopardized, therefore, Think Tanks in the region are in a virtual meeting to brainstorm and get a better understanding of the region’s demographic transformations and the policies that are critically required to achieving the demographic dividend.

They will be looking at policies such as access to affordable and quality healthcare services and social protection, quality education and employment opportunities for young people.

The meeting is being held under the theme: “Generational Economy and Structural Transformation in COVID-19 era in West Africa”.

Organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, in partnership with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria it will further seek 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,” the organisers said.

Commenting, the Acting Director and Chief of the Demographic Dynamics for Development (DDD) Section of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (ECA/SRO-WA), Bakary Dosso, said: “The choice of the theme is a way for ECA/SRO-WA to underline the 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; with the risk that the COVID-19 pandemic could divert efforts away from population policies ».

He pointed out that; “The population growth in West Africa is estimated at 2.6 per cent in 2020, more than double the world average of 1.04 per cent.  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.”

Making a presentation at the meeting, the Regional Director for West and Central Africa of the World Food Programme (WFP), Mr. Chris Nikoi said; “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.”

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 participate in this meeting.

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