UNFPA hosts first Africa-China Conference on Population and Development

18 April 2017
Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, Regional Director, UNFPA East and Southern Africa
The Governments of Kenya and China in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are hosting the first ever Africa-China conference on Population and Development  to discuss the benefits of population management in Africa and China.
 
The conference, whose theme is Harnessing the demographic dividend in Africa, is hosted in collaboration with the China Population and Development Research Centre (CPDRC), the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) and UNFPA). The conference, a first ever in Africa, is taking place from 18th to 19th April 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.
 
The conference seeks to provide a platform where researchers and practitioners in population and development can share experiences, best practices and lessons on population and development.
 
Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, Regional Director, UNFPA East and Southern Africa gave a keynote speech on population and development in the era of sustainable development and the needs and priority issues of African countries in population and development, focusing on the importance of demographic dividend.
 
Indicating what population and development issues African countries need to prioritize as they work towards harnessing the Demographic Dividend, Dr. Julitta said that priority needs to focus on: investing in Africa’s Young People, health and wellbeing of the population, especially the sexual reproductive health of women and young people; population polices and effective institutional architectures and capacities for its implementation; sound and timely demographic intelligence, and finally, financing. 
 
Harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend as part of its sustainable development agenda, Dr. Julitta noted is about boldly and courageously investing in Africa’s Young People. She stated that UNFPA’s proposition is for governments to invest in ensuring all young people are educated, empowered and employed.
 
Educating and empowering the girl child is probably the single most important factor in harnessing the demograhic, she said. For it delivers well proven returns, higher wages, better jobs, fewer children, healthier children, safer childbirth. And education includes, not only inclusive access in terms of school enrollment, but also an emphasis on quality, and skills development that matches labour market demands. 
UNFPA remains fully committed, within this important collaboration with China, Partners for Population and Development and member state governments to provide policy and technical support to ensure countries in Africa harness their demographic dividend, says Dr. Julitta.
On the first day of the conference, Dr. Julitta moderated the high level panel discussions on South - South Cooperation and Harnessing the Demographic Dividend. The high level panel was composed of the Principal Secretary from Kenyan Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Zambian Minister of National Development Planning, Assistant to the Burudian Minister in Charge of Governance and Planning of Burundi, CPDRC Deputy Director General, NCPD Director General and the UN Resident Coordinator, Kenya. 
 
The conference has participants represented from across African countries, as well as Asia. 
 
- By Douglas Waudo, UNFPA Kenya