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ECA moves to harness demographic dividend in West Africa

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), through its Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, is working at harnessing the demographic dividend in West Africa.

The commission in a statement on its website, said this was being done in collaboration with the Regional Consortium for Research in Generational Economics (CREG).

It said ECA had commenced a technical workshop on “Aligning the Demographic Dividend Monitoring Index (DDMI) with the Functional Budget and Performing Budget Elasticity Analysis,” in Niger.

According to the statement, the workshop aims to build the capacity of five selected member states, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo and Senegal.

“It will assess the investments required to harness the demographic dividend, as well as in performing budget elasticity analysis.

“This meeting will finalise the remaining technical stage of the Budgeting Sensitive to Demographic Dividend (BSDD) process.

“It follows on from the regional capacity-building workshop held in Cotonou, Benin, from May 22 to 27, on the retropolation of the DDMI for the period 2001-2020 for the aforementioned member states,” it said.

The Secretary-General of Niger’s Ministry of Planning, Mr Saadou Bakoye, reiterated the need for a consistent functional budget.

Bakoye said: “To accelerate the achievement of conditions for sustainable and inclusive growth conducive to harnessing the demographic dividend.

“The traditional national budget, translated into a functional budget, must be made consistent with the dimensions of the Demographic Dividend Monitoring Index.”

The Director of the ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, Mrs Ngone Diop, affirmed that this step would enable beneficiary countries to be better equipped.

According to Diop, they will identify sectors requiring significant investment to seize the demographic dividend and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said this would be done through optimal resource allocation.

 “With an estimated population of 410 million in 2021, an annual growth rate ranging from 0.9 per cent for Cape Verde to 3.7 per cent for Niger, and a regional average of 2.4 per cent.

“West Africa’s demographic weight represents 30 per cent of the African population and around five per cent of the world’s population.

“This demographic profile has enormous implications for the sectoral policies and resources of our countries.

“Which must respond to the growing social and economic needs of the population, against a backdrop of multifaceted crises affecting public resources and the fiscal space of our countries,” Diop said.

Representing the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Niger, Mrs Anne-Marie Mian, Country-Representative of UN Women in Niger, spoke on the timeliness of the meeting.

Mian said: “This technical workshop comes at the right time, given the situation of rapid demographic growth in Africa, and particularly in West Africa.

“It offers a unique opportunity to assess the efforts and investments needed to capture the demographic dividend and consequently to achieve SDG3, SDG4, SDG5, SDG8 and SDG10″.

The representative of the CREG Coordinator, Dr OGA Baptiste, said the workshop constituted a relevant framework for generating evidence.

According to Baptiste, this will inform political decision-makers on the urgent actions to be taken to seize the demographic dividend in sub-Saharan Africa.

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