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NAIROBI, Kenya – An Africa Demographic Dividend Lab is to be established to support countries on the continent to realize a demographic dividend. This follows Africa's first regional knowledge sharing meeting, hosted by Kenya’s Ministry of Devolution and Planning in Nairobi on 24-26 August.

The main objective of the meeting was to forge a regional approach to spur action on a demographic dividend for the continent.

Setting up an Africa Demographic Dividend Lab was a key recommendation. The aim of the lab will be to use technology for information and data that will inform country demographic dividend programmes and elaborate UNFPA’s corporate branding for demographic dividend – Empower, Educate, Employ.

It is envisaged that the lab will support countries and other major actors in the region to deliver appropriate analysis, programmes, adaptations and policies towards reaping a demographic dividend in Africa.

ICPD Beyond 2014

The symposium is a follow up on the African Regional Conference on Population and Development that was held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in 2013 to discuss and adopt a common position for implementation of ICPD Beyond 2014 as part of the continent’s social and economic transformation agenda. 

At the conference, the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development in Africa Beyond 2014 was adopted. This mapped out a shared forward-looking plan that will enable the continent to accelerate progress towards the goals of ICPD beyond 2014. 

In the Common Africa Position on the post-2015 development agenda and the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063, the AU called for African countries to integrate demographic dimensions in all development programmes, and to strengthen the link between the Demographic Dividend and economic growth, including promoting inclusive development.

“The Demographic Dividend provides governments with a framework to prioritize and address multiple SDG goals and targets in an actionable way." - Rachel Snow

Simplifying the SDGs

Rachel Snow, Chief of UNFPA’s Population and Development Branch, said that the Demographic Dividend simplifies the Sustainable Development Goals. “The Demographic Dividend embodies the integrated development approach of ICPD Beyond 2014 and the SDGs, and provides governments with a framework to prioritize and simultaneously address multiple SDG goals and targets in an actionable way,” she said.

Participants at the Nairobi symposium noted that for the region to succeed in Demographic Dividend programmes, the highest level of country leadership will need to be involved.

Another crucial need was identified as the comprehensive review of current demographic dividend wheels and the associated modelling, costing and planning tools in line with different national socioeconomic and demographic contexts across Africa.

It was recommended that the demographic dividend agenda should be integrated in national and regional development plans, as well as the SDG frameworks, to ensure sustained prioritization and resource allocation.

The symposium, supported by UNFPA in collaboration with the African institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), brought together participants from 14 countries in the East, Central and Southern African region. They included government representatives, UNFPA country and regional office representatives, the East African Community, COMESA, IGAD, development partners, civil society, other UN agencies and the private sector.

By Bernard Muthaka