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Africa urged to use its population to its advantage

By Sellah Singini

Lilongwe, May 20: President Lazarus Chakwera has said African countries need platforms for collaboration, where the continent’s population advantage is married to the human capital disadvantages of other continents to create a better world across the globe.

Chakwera said this on Monday at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe during the official opening of the 9th African Population Conference.

He said Africa must put its population to work and animate it to the fact that it is in a long season of sacrificial nation-building and a lean season of disciplined sowing, not a short-sighted and election obsessed season of harvesting, plundering and eating like there is no tomorrow.

“I doubt that there is anyone in this room who does not know that other continents in the world are struggling to sustain their labour markets demands because they do not have enough young people to work in various industries that are critical to their economies, including agriculture and food security.

“If only we can remove our afro-pessimistic lenses and see that the youthful and enterprising population of Africa is a resource we must harness and equip to solve the sustainability problems that the ageing populations of other nations are grappling with,” said Chakwera.

He said Africa needs to celebrate and leverage it’s demographic dividend by nurturing, empowering and deploying it’s people.

He further said the perspective by other continents that African poverty is exacerbated by its overpopulation is wrong, saying this narrative is afro-pessimism as Africa has enough resources to sustain its people.

Chakwera therefore urged the participants at the conference to take the conference as a solution-oriented event, not a competition on who can complain about Africa the loudest.

“This is a new Malawi for a new Africa, and we are too busy focusing on finding solutions to waste any time on meetings that add no value to the creation of Africa we want,” he added.

In his remarks, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Simplex Chithyola Banda said the conference is set for African countries to share knowledge, experiences and best practices in population management, in pursuit of Africa’s sustainable development ambitions.

Chithyola Banda said for so long , Arica has been taken as a stunted and stagnant continent with little hope of lifting her people out of poverty and that Africa has received little attention to her quest for development and technical assistance.

“But the world now knows that Africa is on the move and that it has the largest size of arable land for agriculture production to feed the world; Africa has the largest deposit of mineral wealth and that it is enjoying a demographic dividend for economic productivity,” Chithyola Banda said.

“This conference demonstrates that as Africans, we are collaborating more and strengthening partnerships in areas which will accelerate African economic growth, such as health and education, focusing on population development, especially on the youth,” he said.

The five-day conference, which has attracted over 600 delegates, is held under the theme “Road to 2030: leveraging Africa’s human capital to achieve transformation in a world of uncertainty”.

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