Malawi’s youthful and unproductive population, though currently a burden for the country to provide them with social services, could be turned into an opportunity if the country makes necessary investments in it.
This realisation—popularly termed as demographic dividend—will be subject of discussion in Lilongwe from Tuesday to Thursday next week as the country convenes the 2016 National Conference on Population and Development.
During the conference, there will be the dissemination of findings of Malawi’s first demographic dividend study and also presentations of various research papers on population and fertility rates.
The conference, under the theme Empowering, Educating and Employing Youth to Harness the Demographic Dividend and Achieve Socioeconomic Transformation, will bring together government and various stakeholders in population and development.
In an interview yesterday, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College demography lecturer Dr Jesman Chintsanya, one of the stakeholders at the conference, said he is pleased to note that Malawi is now taking population issues seriously.
He noted that the current rate of population growth, and age structure of Malawi have negative impact on the country’s development.
Due to high fertility rates, he noted, the age structure of Malawi is youthful.
“Ideally, this is a chance for the society to take advantage of the fact that the dependency ratio—that is, the productive people in the society—is high compared to the people you have to take care of, such as children and the elderly,” he said.
To harness this demographic dividend, Chintsanya said Malawi needs to invest in key development sectors to ensure that the youthful population is productive.
He also called for the need to slow down the rapid population growth and reduce fertility rates.
In January this year, during the launch of the National Youth Conference, President Peter Mutharika underlined the importance of investing in the youth as a panacea for fighting poverty in the country.