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The Demographic Transition has happened in Botswana

7 August 2015

This was the key message at the policy makers briefing hosted by UNFPA Botswana on the demographic dividend.

Among the policy makers were ten young people who ensured that the evening was rooted on young people's everyday life realities.

 

In her opening statement, the UNFPA Assistant Representative, Ms. Mareledi Segotso emphasized the need for strategic investments in key areas of the economy, such as health, education, good governance and the centrality of tapping on the potential of young people. “In order to reap the demographic dividend we need our young people to be healthy, better skilled and with decent jobs.  The 10 year old of today, will be 25 in 2030, the year the world is expected to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The strategies that we will put in place now will determine whether he or she becomes a net contributor to the economy or not.”

Both the UNFPA Technical Adviser on Data for Development Policy Dr. Mady Biaye and the Executive Director for African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) Dr. Eliya Zulu indicated that evidence in some regions of the world have demonstrated the potential presented by the changing age structures, low or reducing fertility rates and low age-dependency rates to spur economic development.

Dr. Zulu stated that the first step for countries to earn a sizable demographic dividend is to accelerate fertility decline. This then opens a window of opportunity through the creation of an age structure dominated by working age youth. He observed that the window of opportunity for Botswana is already open as the country is now at an advanced stage of a demographic transition with low fertility rates and a youth bulge as presented by the age structure. Dr. Zulu however cautioned that reduced fertility rates do not automatically yield a demographic dividend without strategic investments in health, education, empowerment of women and youth, and simultaneous economic reforms to create sufficient jobs and efficiency in public institutions. Dr. Biaye on the other hand emphasized that the window of opportunity for the few Sub-Saharan countries which are experiencing the onset of the demographic dividend is temporary.

The ILO Regional Deputy Director, Dr. Joni Musabayana emphasized the importance of ensuring that the young people are provided with opportunities to acquire education, life-skills and training that will enhance their employability, productivity and competitiveness. He noted that the SADC Youth Employment Promotion Policy Framework addresses youth employment challenges and presents a potential in harnessing a sustainable Demographic Dividend through concerted effort for all SADC countries. He noted that the Framework in anchored on 4 principles, vis: Empowerment, Partnership, Participation and Inclusivity. “One of the expected outcomes of the framework is improved employability for all youth and improved supply of quality skills and reduced mismatches of youth labour market participants.

This briefing was organized as part of UNFPA, University of Botswana and Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) partnership on the demographic dividend agenda. The next steps in this work includes the completion of the national demographic dividend study, development of policy briefs and continued advocacy to incorporate the DD  national frameworks such the National Development Plan 11