The United Nations in Malawi has asked the government to invest and act on findings that 46 percent of the population is aged below 15 years and requires deliberate investments in education, health and youth employment.
The UN made the call after Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe yesterday launched the Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Study at the Second National Conference on Population and Development whose findings outlined measures to harness the demographic dividend, including economic reforms to reduce the cost of doing business and improving skills and education of the workforce.
The report identified a high child dependency as a key component stifling the country’s development agenda because there is a high population depending on few Malawians who pay taxes.
In her remarks, UN Malawi resident coordinator Mia Seppo said she expected the launch of the report to be followed by concrete actions to take the demographic dividend agenda forward.
Action, she said, should be followed up with policy and investment recommendations from the report to help the government design the next medium term development plan once Vision 20-20 expires in three years’ time.
Said Seppo: “It is important that the next steps should focus on action. A road map with concrete actions and milestones should be helpful in assisting the country move towards developing and implementing a demographic dividend programme.”
She said government and various stakeholders have already recognised that the challenge to health care and drugs; deforestation, food and nutrition insecurity was population.
Seppo added that the demographic dividend paradigm presented Malawi with a valuable framework for unleashing the power of youth in enabling the country to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
In his remarks, United States of America charge d’affaires Andrew Herrup said investing in youth as his government has done through various education programmes would move the country forward.
“Ultimately, such efforts will allow Malawi to reap a demographic dividend, the boost in economic growth that happens where there are a large number of productive people in the workforce relative to young children and the elderly,” Herrup said.
However, responding to the remarks, Gondwe admitted that the country had ‘stacks’ of studies and reports with important recommendations but practical suggestions were lacking.
“We know what we should be doing, on agriculture, on education, in the economic field. But I would hope that next time there should be emphasis on how well to make use of these studies and implement them,” he said.