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Migration and the Demographic Dividend: mobility from Sub-Saharan Africa

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in partnership with the Italian Association for Women and Development (Associazione Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo – AIDOS) and with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation today held the International Seminar “Migration and the Demographic Dividend: mobility from Sub-Saharan Africa”.

The 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 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. 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. This population rise will also boost the migration rate. 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 United Nations Agency UNFPA is grateful for the support provided by Italy through the contribution of 12 million dollars allocated in 2017 for initiatives to protect the health and life of women and girls in partner Countries.

In his opening statement, Giorgio Marrapodi said: “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.”

Mr Arthur Erken added: “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.” UN Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake concluded: “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.”