Malawi’s projected high growth rates and weak policies are a likely indicator of possible demographic vulnerability, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has said in its 2017 African Competitive Report.
Also at risk of facing challenges in achieving demographic dividends are Angola, Chad, Mali, Uganda and Guinea.
Demographic dividend is the accelerated economic growth that may result from a decline in a country’s population growth rate and the subsequent change in the age structure of the population resulting in a larger share of working age population.
The report says that based on demographic characteristics, most countries in Africa—Malawi included—have high dependency, fertility, and population growth rates and are predominantly low-income countries.
“This growth in the working-age population is neither inherently beneficial nor detrimental. Rather, the policy environment defining the ability of economies to create jobs will ultimately determine the nature of the outcome,” reads the report in part.
The report’s findings agree with the Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) which has urged government to enhance measures of achieving demographic growth.
Mejn executive director Dalitso Kubalasa, speaking at the pre-budget consultations meeting with the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, said that there is need to turn the youth of the country, who constitute around 70 percent of the population, into wheels of development.
“We should go back to reflect on the investment made on the productive workforce which is the potential asset. We need to optimise and maximise human capital development that will spur development,” said Kabalasa.
However, the African Competitive Report states that moving from a larger and better-educated labour force to greater economic output requires complementary policies to create new jobs and these can include supporting investment in infrastructure, sound economic policy, a favourable investment climate, and promotion of policies favourable to trade and competitiveness.