Abuja, Dec. 31, 2014 (NAN) The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has identified investment in youth education, health and protection of their rights to ensure economic growth. The Executive Director of the fund, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, disclosed in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Osotimehin, in reference to the recent report on the state of the world population day and actualisation of demographic dividend, described youths as innovators, builders, creators and future leaders. He said that the only way youths can transform the future was when they have the skills, health, decision making and real choices in life. According to him, the potential economic gains would be realised through a demographic dividend that can occur when a country working age population is larger than population that is dependent and younger.
The executive director further said that in order to maximise the dividend, countries must ensure their young working-age populations are equipped to seize opportunities for jobs and other income-earning possibilities. Osotimehin further said that with the right policies and investments in human capital, countries can empower young people to drive economic and social development and boost per-capita incomes.
He urged countries in pursuit of a demographic dividend to ensure that the gains result in growth that benefits everyone. “The UNFPA new report shows that demographic shifts taking place in about 60 countries are opening a window for a demographic dividend.
“The size of the dividend depends largely on how those countries invest in young people to realise their full potential.
“Today’s record reviews that 1.8 billion young people present an enormous opportunity to transform the future. They are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future.
“But they can transform the future only if they have skills, health, decision-making and real choices in life.
“With the right policies and investments in human capital, countries can empower young people to drive economic and social development and boost per-capita incomes,’’ he said.
The executive director urged countries in pursuit of a demographic dividend to ensure that the gains result in growth that benefits everyone.
According to him, it is too easy to talk about the demographic dividend in terms of money, savings and economic growth, which he noted have so far excluded many. Osotimehin, however, said that demographic dividend must be harnessed to achieve inclusive growth and offer opportunities and well-being for all. He said that such investment would affect their lives and adopting policies to bolster economic growth. “A demographic dividend of this magnitude has the potential to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and raise living standards and catapult economies forward. “Critical youth investments needed to reap a demographic dividend are those that protect rights, including reproductive rights, improve health, including sexual and reproductive health.”