The Africa Progress Group (APG) on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 organised an International Roundtable to analyse and proffer solutions to the challenges posed by the increasing population growth rate in the region.
The Roundtable, which was held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun, was attended by 18 globally-renowned experts on population studies and scholars in socio-religious disciplines impacting on population growth and management.
The theme of the event is “Making Africa Population An Asset Rather Than A Liability” and was co-chaired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and founder of Transparency International, Prof. Peter Eigen.
According to the participants, Africa’s population is already a problem and there is need to explore how the growth rate can be managed from becoming a crisis and snowball into disaster.
In examining the region’s population as a liability, they said that the population of Africa was estimated in 2018 at more than 1.3 billion, with a growth rate of more than 2.5 per annum, considered to be the highest in the world, with a huge youth bulge.
Obasanjo, in his remarks, said the discussions had become necessary in order to sensitise African governments and other stakeholders within and outside the region on the need for effective management of the population to assure improved socio-economic development of the continent.
Obasanjo specifically observed that the growing and unmanaged population was fuelling terrorism within the region, particularly the Boko-Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
He recalled that 25 of 26 arrested members of the Boko-Haram interviewed by him said they joined the sect while they were in search of job with only one admitting that he joined for religious reasons.
A communiqué issued at the end of the Roundtable identified high fertility, values placed on high number of children per family, male sex preference, early marriage and gender power dynamics as some of the factors fueling population increase in Africa.
It observed that Africa’s huge population imposed liabilities on development of the continent, including:
Imposing a high poverty profile of many African countries, estimated to be 72%.
Inducing environmental damage, loss of bio-diversity and
disturbing rate of youth unemployment;
Lowered the quality of the education system making many African countries non-competitive in educational standards relative to the rest of the world.
The communiqué observed that Africa’s population could be turned to an asset when it is used to make meaningful contribution to the entire socio-political economy of the societies.
The communique recommended enthronement and promotion of efficient and effective governance in African counties as basis for turning the region’s population to an asset.
The communique, which emphasised the effectiveness of education in the successful management of populations, recommended an overhaul of educational systems in African countries.
It stressed the need for better harmonisation of Islamic education and Western education as successfully practised in a number of Islamic countries including Tunisia, Egypt and Indonesia.
It also emphasised investment in culturally-compliant family planning procedure while showcasing, publicising and rewarding successful practices.
It stressed the need for increased participation in mechanised agriculture, to foster food and nutrition security even with large populations.
By Olawale Jokotoye