“The demographic dynamics in Africa present a huge opportunity for the continent. We have seen in many countries that this usually results in more rapid rates of economic growth.”
This statement was made by Pedro Conceicao, UNDP’s chief economist for Africa during an interview with Alertnet.
Conceicao explained that issues relating to food security had to be addressed in order to sustain growth in Africa.
UNDP believes Agriculture could provide jobs for many young people. This was echoed by Sebastian Levine, a UNDP policy adviser for Africa.
Levine said “If agriculture becomes much more effective and much more interesting in terms of utilising and drawing on the skills of youth in new technologies, it will attract a whole new generation of youth and it will create job opportunities,”.
He analysed the issues within the continent and explained how Africa needs to boost agricultural productivity and address the debilitating hunger that affects 27 percent of its population if it is to sustain its economic boom, on Tuesday.
The growth of African economies was revealed to have gone up at an average of more than 5 percent during the past decade with many countries benefiting from surging commodity prices, as well as growth in services, construction and agriculture. However, the character of the growth has had negligible impact in reducing extreme poverty and hunger. The statistics showed that less than 60 percent of African children below the age 5 were well-nourished .
In its first Africa Human Development Report, “Towards a Food Secure Future”, the UNDP called for more investment in agriculture to ensure sustained growth and poverty reduction.
Ghana became the first Sub-Saharan African country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015 partly by focusing on policies that encouraged smallholder cocoa farmers to boost output, the report said.
It also recommended policies that boost nutrition, such as school feeding programmes and fortification of food with vitamins and iodine, and increase people’s ability to withstand shocks such as drought.
The report said investment in agricultural productivity was important not only for reducing hunger but also in creating jobs for Africa’s rapidly growing population, which is predicted to double to 2 billion by 2050.