Africa’s population increase could lead to widespread poverty, civil society groups warn

Head of Health, Nutrition and Population Division, AU Commission Dr Margaret Agama addresses a convention on population in Windhoek, Namibia. [Courtesy]
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) within Africa Union (AU) member states have warned that if not checked, uncontrolled births could lead to widespread poverty in Africa by the year 2050.

They said uncontrolled births can create a ticking time bomb as it exerts pressure on meager resources exacerbating poverty and destitution.

The CSOs representatives were speaking during a meeting in Windhoek, Namibia to find ways of addressing population growth as well as contentious issues that affect population and development for Africa.

The meeting was initiated by AU to guide future negotiations and ensure Africa’s key priorities and concerns are reflected in outcome documents.

Head of Health, Nutrition and Population Division, AU Commission Dr Margaret Agama said most countries still grapple with challenges despite the various agreed tools and commitments that AU member states have ratified to advance the population and development agenda of the continent.

“We are keen to hear from civil societies and member states on what they think the issues are and what solutions lie in addressing these issues,” said Agama.

“The purpose of this convention is to identify the complexities, similarities, commonalities and diversities as the first step towards developing a continental policy on population and development,” she added.

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Common stand

Agama who spoke at the two-day Windhoek convention “The Status of Africa’s population: A Common Africa Position on Population and development (CAP),”

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Africa Union Liaison Officer Sam Ntalemo said the forum was a consultative process where CSo were expected to provide fresh thoughts on how the continent should strategically reposition population and development discourse.

“The stage has been set for African CSOs to provide candid thoughts on how our continent will address the sticky population issues. It is henceforth, befitting that we are all gathered here to put our heads together and propose the content and context of the Common Africa Position at the global fora,” said Ntelamo.

According to World Population Prospects 2019, the current population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050, if Africa fails to take necessary measures to manage its rapidly increasing population.

Some of the sticky issues that CSOs felt should be addressed in totality include issues that have direct impact on population and development outcomes such as climate change, rapid urbanisation, migration, rights of the minorities, SRHR et cetera.

The CAP is being developed in a consultative process that will also involve governments, member states on a higher political level and negotiators in New York who often negotiate on behalf of Africa in global processes on population and development.

The final document will be anchored in the ideals of Pan-Africanism and African solidarity as well as shared values and informed by other existing AU frameworks.

It is expected that the drafting of the CAP will enrich, reshape and accelerate CSOs voices on population and development in line with the Agenda for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2063 and other policy instruments.

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