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Africa could learn from China in harnessing demographic dividend: UN official

Xinhua, April 18, 2017 Adjust font size:

A United Nations official on Tuesday said that Africa can learn valuable lessons from China in harnessing its demographic dividend.

UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya Siddharth Chatterjee told a regional population forum in Nairobi that Beijing's impressive economic growth over the past three decades is an outcome of investing in its youth population.

"Africa can reap demographic dividend if it improves the skills of its youth so that they play a role in economic transformation," Chatterjee said during the opening ceremony of the first Africa-China Conference on Population and Development.

The two-day event will help strengthen partnerships between Africa and China in the field of population and development.

Chatterjee said that Africa will need to create 100 million jobs per year for the next 10 years in order take advantage of the demographic dividend.

"This will be achieved if Africa expands opportunities for its youth population to participate in the economy," he added.

The UN official noted that Sub-Saharan Africa loses approximately 95 billion U.S. dollars annually due to inequality.

He said that inequality is due to a large number of adults who are not gainfully engaged in the economy through employment or as entrepreneurs.

Government data indicates that in Kenya, there are 81 dependents for every 100 people in the workforce.

"Due to the high number of dependents, the economy is not able to achieve the high rate of savings that is required to propel investments," the UN official said.

Chatterjee said that for Africa to reduce its poverty level, it needs to manage its population growth just like China did.

"China is an example to the rest of the developing countries when it comes to family planning," he noted. Endit