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The demographic changes in Africa present an opportunity to accelerate the socioeconomic transformation of the continent through harnessing the demographic dividend (DD). This is the economic benefit arising from a significant increase in the ratio of working-age adults relative to young dependents that results from rapid fertility decline. This increases productivity and lowers costs for basic social services for children, which increases savings by households and governments. These savings can be directed to investments for further economic growth. The DD is augmented through sustained investments in education, skills development, health, job creation and improved governance.

Realizing both the opportunity of capitalizing on the DD and the possibilities of missing out on its potential, various initiatives have in recent years been established to inform and educate decision-makers on the DD and to advocate for its integration in development plans. A growing number of actors have joined the DD agenda in the continent and are active in supporting governments, institutions and policy-makers to conduct assessments and analytical studies on the potential of countries and regions to harness the DD and identify critical policy actions that will enable them to do so. For Africa to harness a substantial DD, these initiatives have identified major policy action recommendations.