Demographic Transition in Africa
How to support the harnessing of Africa’s potential demographic dividend through international collaboration
In 2019 the Global Diplomacy Lab (GDL) hosted its 10th and 11th Labs in Accra, Ghana and Berlin, Germany respectively focusing on “Global Power Shifts: Political and Economic Inclusion for the Next Generation. Collaborating to Realize the Potential of the Demographic Dividend.” The question of how to support the harnessing of Africa’s potential demographic dividend through international collaboration was the challenge of the 2019 Curriculum. Among some of the issues that were identified as challenges in fostering collaboration towards a demographic dividend in Africa were the need for strategic diversity management, trustworthy cooperation between Europe and Africa, more effective use of data and building more inclusive and equitable African cities.
To collectively document, analyze and synthesize how different types and modalities of international cooperation and collaborative approaches can be strengthened to better contribute to the successful integration of young people in Africa’s development.
The panel was focused on diving deeper into the question of the impact of Africa’s population growth on human insecurity, electoral integrity and democratic violence. The conversation highlighted the need to integrate young people in the socio-economic and political processes of countries so as to avoid the potential for the surging youth population to be destabilising, and become a burden on economic growth and public budgets.
Africa’s youth population is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over 830 million by 2050. The belief that this youth bulge will translate into a demographic dividend is the premise upon which several national and continental development policies and initiatives are built. The ‘demographic dividend’ is a period during which the proportion of working-age people is increasing relative to the rest of the population. It can contribute to the creation of the necessary savings, productive conditions, financial and social institutions, and social protection systems to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. In addition to the demographic dividend, the demographic transition has also created favourable conditions for another powerful dividend - the ‘gender dividend’. It arises from the increase in female labour-force participation, which implies overcoming discriminatory barriers against women that exist both inside and outside of the labour market.
A basic measure of success in turning the youth bulge into a demographic dividend is the youth unemployment rate. Integrating young people as effective economic citizens is critical to harnessing the demographic dividend. African countries have a time-limited opportunity to integrate this generation as economic citizens and reap the benefits before they mature and reach a nonworking age. Successful integration would result in a virtuous cycle of sustained growth on the continent. Unfortunately, while between 10 and 12 million people join the African labour force each year (33,000 youth across Africa join the search for employment every 24 hours), only approximately 3.7 million jobs are created annually. Young people not absorbed into the formal employment market are consigned to unemployment, underemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty. The idea of the youth burden - an unemployed youth bulge failing to become a demographic dividend in countries in fragile situations - looms large.
To successfully integrate young people in Africa’s socio-economic and political processes, it is important that interventions which drive economic growth, while at the same time enhancing youth agency and participation, are implemented. Countries need to ensure that interventions promote investment in human capital, foster the creation of an enabling environment for businesses to boost employment, and improve the effectiveness and credibility of their civic and government institutions. Successfully implementing these interventions would not only deliver the demographic dividend but also address high levels of economic inequality. In this sense, the success of both the global development agenda - 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the continental development agenda - Agenda 2063, is strongly bound to anticipating and planning for the effects of the demographic transition.
As a next step in this process, Nahari Africa intends to convene a cross-sectoral community interested in the impact of the demographic transition on Africa’s development to enable them to discuss their perspectives, and, by discussing, build their knowledge and understanding of the subject. In addition, the dialogue will take into consideration four prevailing megatrends on the continent - the move to enhance integration across the continent which has been given a new impetus by the creation of the AfCTA, the covid-19 pandemic, the economic potential created by rapid urbanisation, and the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to turbocharge private-sector led development - that present opportunities that could be leveraged to enhance the integration of young people in Africa’s socio-economic and political processes.
The aim is to:
(1) Explore how South-South and North-South cooperation contributes to improving the capability of African Nations to include young people in socio-economic and political processes
(2) Explore how Private Sector Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship, a growing trend in development cooperation, can contribute to the inclusion of young people in socio-economic and political processes
(3) Examine the potential contribution of increased integration within Africa, a new dynamic on the development cooperation front, to an approach that enables inclusion of young people in socio-economic and political processes
(1) Recommendations on how to strengthen international cooperation and collaborative approaches which have the potential to influence the practice of various actors of the international development cooperation community and to contribute to making interventions more effective and consistent with the goal of “leaving no one behind”
(2) Recommendations on improving South-South and North-South cooperation processes to increase their impact on African Nations
(3) Recommendations on effectively integrating to private sector engagement and social entrepreneurship in development cooperation interventions
(4) Recommendations on strategies to leverage the Africa integration process to enhance development cooperation processes
In the framework of the Equity, Diversity and Belonging Week by BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt (#EDBWeek21), we hosted a session on 28th June 2021 with panellists drawn from public sector, private sector and civil society .
The conversation took a multi-sectoral approach on analysing interventions for youth inclusion in African economies. It focused on the question of whether leaders are responding to the aspirations of young citizens. In case you missed the session, watch it here:
How to get engaged
If you should be interested in taking part in this dialogue, please approach Elizabeth Maloba and Patrick Mpedzisi at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Maloba and Patrick Mpedzisi, Nahari Africa
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