Italy's foreign ministry, the United Nations Population Fund, the Italian Association for Women and Development and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation held a meeting Wednesday in Rome on demography and migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, the ministry said.
The 'Migration and the Demographic Dividend: mobility from Sub-Saharan Africa' event opened with remarks by Giorgio Marrapodi, Director General for Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, who was followed by Arthur Erken, Director of Communications and Strategic Partnership at the UNFPA and Jayathma Wickramanayake, Special Envoy on Youth of the United Nations Secretary General.
“The goal is to unleash the socio-economic potential of the largest percentage of youth population ever recorded in history up to now. It is now an imperative to concentrate our actions, our resources and our efforts to creating the conditions to enable these youths to fully express their human, social and economic potential to their own benefit and to that of their communities,” Marrapodi said in his address.
“In view of the very large youth population in the area, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are ready to implement the demographic dividend. However, in order to do this, young Africans need to decide on their own reproduction policies. During the last four years UNFPA programmes have helped more than 17 million adolescents to access sexual and reproductive health services," Erken said
The seminar was attended by Italian and international experts who illustrated data, trends and socio-economic policies on the challenges and opportunities of the demographic dividend of Sub-Saharan Africa and on the connection with migration flows.
Approximately 42% of the Sub-Saharan population is between 10 and 24 years of age, the Italian foreign ministry said. Adequate investments on human capital and correct policies to support the employment of youth in Sub-Saharan African countries are estimated to total at least 500 billion dollars a year for 30 years, amounting to almost a third of the regions present GDP.
With a population of 1.2 billion, the African population will rise to 1.7 billion in 2030 and to 3 billion in 2063, boosting the migration rate, the foreign ministry noted.
The seminar highlighted the need for a multi-sectoral and multi-partner integrated approach in order to act on the deep causes of migration and the associated challenges so that the region of Sub-Saharan Africa may convert the demographic dividend challenge into an opportunity, the ministry said.
UNFPA last year received 12 million dollars from Italy for initiatives to protect the health and life of women and girls in partner countries, the ministry stated.
“Today’s youth represent the generation most in movement in history, constantly looking out for a job or an opportunity outside their national borders. We must more strongly and staunchly recognise the important role that youth play in achieving sustainable development and their positive contribution to both their original and hosting communities” Wickramanayake concluded.