In its efforts to accelerate the emergence of the African continent, the Rebranding Africa Forum this year will devote itself in exploring a better coordination between African demography, sometimes considered as its main asset, and at times as its major constraint and the financial systems, regularly accused of not playing adequately their role in the development of Africa.
The demographic dividend refers to the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older). This situation creates a demographic opportunity, due to the reduction in expenditure on dependent persons thus making it possible to identify ways of financing development policies. But this demographic bonus is not yet a demographic dividend whose achievement depends on strategic investments (massive and sustainable) in four key areas:
- Family planning, with the objective to rapidly decrease fertility (number of children per woman). This decline is the essential and indispensable condition for the demographic transition that may lead to a dividend;
- education (training);
- economic policies that create jobs, and good governance to attract as many investors as possible.
No modern state has developed without following the trajectory indicated by the demographic dividend thus characterized. It is likely because Africa (and in particular, the south Sahara region) did not take this path in the 60s and 70s as the Tigers of Asia (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore) with whom they shared a similar demographic data that today it has the most worrying demographic prospects in the world, with an estimated population of more than 4 billion by the year 2100. The reason being a fertility rate of more than 5 children per woman compared to a 2.5 global average, an annual population growth of 3% compared to a world average of just over 1%, a dependency ratio (under 15 years) of 41%, two to three times higher than in emerging countries, a contraceptive rate of 10-20% compared to 60% in Asia and Latin America, etc. With such a demographic diagnosis, the prognosis seems obvious: unless it starts its contraceptive revolution without delay, Africa is heading towards a dramatic social explosion. The 2008 hunger riots are only pale early signs of future demographic dramas.
On October 6, 2017, the most eminent competent personalities in the financial, economic, political and scientific fields will meet in Brussels in order to create the necessary synergies and partnerships in the light of the theme chosen for this fourth edition: “Issues and Challenges of African Financial Systems facing the Demographic Dividend”.