A Professor in population studies at the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana (UG), Stephen Kwankye, has urged the government to harness the unique Demographic Dividend (DD) for sustainable development of the country.
Prof. Kwankye explained that demographic dividend is the accelerated economic growth that comes about as a result of changes in the age structure of the population from high birth rate to low birth rate.
He made the call here in Entebbe, Uganda on Tuesday at the 8th African Population Conference in a paper titled “Understanding the Demographic Dividend in Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia” he delivered on behalf of a team of researchers.
Prof. Kwankye said Africa’s population was projected to be 2.5 billion by 2060 out of the world’s population estimated to be 10, adding ” we need to look at what we can do to harness the demographic dividend in relations to the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Referring to Ghana in an interview, Prof. Kwankye said the country had a youthful population and that the window of opportunity of the demographic dividend, which started opening up in the country in 1980s was not permanent and would end by 2030.”
“We must work extra harder to invest in the youth to reap the demographic dividend as it depicts a shorter time,” he added.
He urged the government to invest more in education, health, skills training for the youth to acquire entrepreneurial skills to become the engine of growth, creating more job opportunities, expanding the base of the economy by attracting more foreign investments and ensuring good governance and accountability inclusiveness of the youth.
The UG don, said reaping the benefits of demographic dividend would make Ghana to progress to the second demographic dividend which would be characterised by low family size, economic opportunities “people will earn more, have less family size to take care of and there would be more savings to create more economic livelihoods.”
Prof. Kwankye said the consequences of not taking advantage of the demographic dividend was dire as it would lead to what he described as “Population bomb or Population burst”, citing the “Arab Springs” as example of not adequately investing in the youth to harness the demographic dividend.
The population scientists also expressed concern about the fertility rate in Ghana that remains at 3.9 according to the 2017 Demographic Health Survey, adding that “we should have reduced it further as we go through the demographic transition.”
More than 1,000 participants made up of population scientists and other disciplines from Africa and partners across the globe are meeting here to explore how to harness Africa’s unique population dynamics for Sustainable Development.
It is being organised by the Union of African Population Studies, the largest pan-Africa scientific organisation, in collaboration with the Uganda Government on the theme “Harnessing Africa’s Population Dynamics for Sustainable Development: 25 years after Cairo and Beyond.”
FROM SALIFU ABDUL-RAHAMAN, UGANDA, ENTEBBE