Concept Note
Special Event on “Investing in the youth to harness the demographic dividend: Progress and Prospects”
At the margins of “Rebranding Africa Forum”
5th October 2017, Brussels

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the World Bank, Global Business Coalition (GBC), and the African Youth and Adolescent Network (AfriYAN), are organizing a Special Event on the sidelines of the “Rebranding Africa Forum 2017”, which will take place on the 6th of October 2017 in Brussels to mobilize private sector actors around the demographic dividend in Africa. The Special Event will take place on 5th October 2017.

UNFPA – 5 October 2017



The past two decades have seen renewed interest in the interplay between population and development, with the adoption of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994 and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in
2015. In more recent times, the “demographic dividend” concept has emerged as a development framework that more clearly reflects how combining population growth control with appropriate policies and actions can contribute to accelerate economic growth and lead to sustainable development.

Young people are the engine of economic growth on the condition that institutions are strengthened, and that reforms and programmes are in place to encourage smaller families, improve youth access to appropriate education and training, and create opportunities for their employability. Indeed, the availability of high-quality human capital is essential in maintaining strong and sustainable economic growth. This human capital can be defined as “the body of knowledge and skills that individuals possess and which make them potentially more productive. It is acquired through education and experience, and presupposes that they have good health and resistance to disease”.
This is why African Heads of State and Government, realizing that by harnessing the demographic dividend they will be contributing to transform the continent and achieve the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2063, committed, through the AU Roadmap, to intensify investment in the youth as the main leverage for resilience in tackling the root causes of inequality, instability, vulnerability and insecurity, including hopelessness, forced migration, crime, radicalization, exploitation and violent extremism. They made the commitment also to strengthen intergenerational dialogue as a means of laying a solid foundation for efficient and effective investment in the youth.

Africa is the youngest continent in the world. Over half of its population is under the age of 25. According to UNFPA’s 2014 and 2016 State of World Population reports, the number of young people in human history has never been as high, with 1.2 billion aged between 15 and 24 in 2015 and 1.9 billion expected to be 15 years old between 2015 and 2030. The investments made in the youth during this critical period are going to condition the future in a world that will increasingly depend on them. Job creation must therefore be accelerated to meet the needs of people, especially young people, and thereby maintain a high level of economic growth.


The rationale for organising this side event is that the agenda of the 2017 “Rebranding Africa Forum” includes an item on “Issues and challenges of African financial systems facing the demographic dividend”, with an emphasis on the impact of population growth on development in Africa. This falls in line with deliberations at the high-level meeting organised in Addis Ababa on 3 July 2017 with the First Ladies of Africa and at the London Summit of 11 July 2017, where progress in the Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project was reviewed and a call made to extend and replicate the initiative at national and continental level. This event comes therefore as a step forward in rolling out this recommendation with the opportunity to further strengthen partnership around this initiative through the involvement of private sector and communication actors.

Hence, this side event will be an opportunity to further promote the SWEDD regional initiative, which aims mainly to accelerate the demographic transition with a view to achieving the demographic dividend. It will make it possible also to share information on the progress made in strengthening political commitment and social mobilization for the demographic dividend in the Sahel region and beyond, as well as the actions to take towards securing the sustainability of these gains.


The side event aims to be a platform for exchanges between governments, technical and financial partners, the private sector and civil society organisations (youth, media) on investment opportunities for harnessing the demographic dividend in Africa.

Specifically, it will:

  • Review progress in implementing the African Union Roadmap on the demographic dividend;
  • Share success stories (at national or regional level) on youth empowerment and the demographic dividend;
  • Strengthen partnership with the private sector, media and other stakeholders in operationalizing the demographic dividend in Africa;
  • Lay the foundation for thinking on the sustainability of existing initiatives (SWEDD) by scaling-up them at national and continental level;


The day will be organised in two sessions: 1) a session for mobilising media practitioners on the demographic dividend; and 2) a second session for dialogue with the private sector and youth organisations. The first session with the media practitioners will revolve around: (i) a briefing session on the challenges of achieving the demographic dividend in Africa and a presentation on the AU roadmap, (ii) presentation of the SWEDD project, and (iii) development of an action plan for involving communication actors in the rollout of the AU roadmap on the demographic dividend.

The second session will be organised as a plenary session with contributions from dignitaries with different backgrounds (government, the United Nations, the private sector, the African Union, civil society, etc.). The presentations will address four themes: (i) Progress in the implementation of the AU Roadmap and Prospects for Youth, (ii) Assessment of funding needs for the implementation of the AU Roadmap on the demographic dividend, (Iii) The role of the private sector in the implementation of the AU Roadmap, and (iv) Mechanisms for extending and replicating SWEDD at the national and continental level, with a particular emphasis on Public- Private Partnership (PPP).

These presentations will be followed by panel discussions between UNFPA, governments, the private sector and youth organizations. To do this, young people identified in different African countries will prepare and ask questions on the: “Opportunities for empowering young people to capture the Demographic Dividend and mechanisms for scaling up the SWEDD project”.


  • UNFPA: Interim Executive Director, WCARO Regional Director and WCARO staff, SWEDD Country Representatives, HQ, Liaison Office, Belgium;
  • African Union: President of the AU Commission, AU Presiding Officer, Theme Champion of the Year;
  • SWEDD Countries: SWEDD Regional Steering Committee Member Ministries (Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Planning and Development, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, Mali’s Minister of Territorial Administration and Population, Mauritania’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Niger’s Minister of Population and Chad’s Minister of Economic and Development Planning), Ministers of Health, Ministers of Education, Ministers of Family and Women’s Affairs, and Ministers of Youth from SWEDD countries, Country Coordinators of the SWEDD project;
  • Other non-SWEDD countries: The Ministers of Health and Ministers of Population of Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • Civil Society Organisations: Youth Organisations young people with proven talents in WCARO countries, the WCARO network of partner countries, Representative of Women Leader, Representative of the Parliamentary Forum, Artists;
  • Private sector: Representatives of Foundations, CEOs of companies, members of the
    private sector and model entrepreneurs;