Fatima Samoura, the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, on Monday said Africa’s population has been projected to be two billion by 2050.
Samoura added that out of this figure, one billion would be below 25 years in the next 34 years.
The official disclosed this at opening of a Regional Leadership Summit on the African Demographic Dividend in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the three-day summit is organised by the United Nations Population Fund.
Samoura said the idea of the regional summit is to transform the huge population into an opportunity for economic and scientific development.
She said the summit would also ensure that the outcome of the discussions and other documents did not stop on the economy but also goes to education and other disciplines.
She said some universities in Africa do not adjust their curricular to the needs of science, technology and economy but remain very traditional and vertical in the way they are approaching demographic dividends.
Samurai said: “The concept of demographic dividend, which is integral to inclusive growth and poverty reduction, is not new, but dates back to Reverend Thomas Malthus (1798).
“Issues of the demographic dividend have gained prominence in international development arena due to the increasing and obvious relationship between population dynamics and sustainable development.
“This has also resulted in many international affirmations on population and development, including the Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Samoura said the Agenda 2030 underlines the importance of integrating population dynamics into development interventions.
She stressed the need to take population projections and trends into consideration in development policies planning and implementation.
According to Samoura, Africa, with an estimated population of 1.2 billion in 2016, remains the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent in the world with relatively young population.
She said: “More than half of the population is under the age of 25 in many countries, since the population of most countries in the continent are growing more than two per cent every year.”
Samoura said channelling the potential positive energies of the youth is crucial in building a better future in the continent.
She said youth means more active people working towards developing agriculture and industries and improving the health sector.
Ratidzai Ndhlovu, Country Representative, said UNFPA has been supporting institutional capacity in demographic analysis, population and development research and the effective translation of research into relevant policy guidance for government.
She said the summit has been convened to deepen understanding of the demographic dividend issues and discuss ways by which donors can support seed funding to select institutions.
Ndhlovu said the summit would also discuss how donors can invest in their institutional resources, build institutional capacity in the demographic dividend and foster a new generation of experts on the continent.