The map of Africa depicts a question mark pose to the continent and Madagascar in the southeast coast of Africa as the “dot”, says Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of State for Housing at the Uganda Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
“This is the question the continent is posing to us though Africa has made some progress it still lagged behind in terms of economic and social development,” he bemoaned.
Addressing the Uganda Day as a side event at the ongoing 8th African Population Conference here in Entebbe, Uganda, Dr Baryomunsi said the question posed to the continent was why it remained underdeveloped, despite its rich mineral and human resources.
The minister said it was a challenge to political leadership on the continent to invest in human capital to turn around the fortunes of the continent.
Touching on the theme for the conference: ‘Harnessing Africa’s Population Dynamics for Sustainable Development: 25 years after Cairo and Beyond,’ Dr Baryomunsi said, “We have the biggest youthful population in the world, how are we able to harness the demographic dividend that comes with it?
“We should invest in young people to get the best of productivity out of them for economic growth, otherwise they will remain a security threat to political leadership, we must invest heavily in human capital, increase investment in education, get more people to school to get skills and be innovative, and create jobs for them so that they would not be part of the political instability on the continent.
“Let us collaborate as government, the private sector, development partners and civil society to transform Africa and ensure that we leave no one behind,” Dr Baryomunsi emphasised.
He charged the Union of African Population Studies, the largest pan-African scientific organisation, to reflect on the issues to come out with a way forward “that will take our people to greater height.
“Uganda is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals to create a better future for Ugandans and the continent in general,” Dr Baryomunsi assured, and touched on family planning, adding that “attaining low fertility rates are not adequate, but putting measures to ensure that young people are part of economic growth”.
FROM SALIFU ABDUL-RAHAMAN, UGANDA, ENTEBBE