Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA), Babatunde Osotimehin, says Africa can generate over $500 billion with adequate investment in health, education and nutrition annually, while fielding questions in Abuja.
According to the UN Chief, Africa’s population must be seen as an asset that could generate demographic dividends for the continent, as ‘’we must not be pushed to think that there are population crises in Nigeria or Africa, but rather to work with the useful population and reap dividend.’’
Government could get maximum demographic benefits by providing quality education, health, nutrition and access to credit for young people in Africa, the UNFPA chief executive said, saying “in alleviating poverty, education is the first that has to happen; an educated person is a creative person, and also innovative person.
“When you don’t have education and information, you are not likely to be able to move ahead to do the next thing.
“Second is the health, so, a healthy population and educated population will make the difference. The third, and closely related to it, is nutrition, people have to eat well and if you don’t eat well, and a hungry person is not likely to be creative. If you put the three together, we will make a difference.’’
To him, if you invest in the population, you will get dividends more than what you can ever think.
“We reckon that if you do it and do it well, first, you will have more people working, we have more savings and we will grow the economy. And in Africa, given the fact that the structures are the same around Africa, we can have $500 billion yearly generated from that which is larger than what we have today.
“What we have today in all the central banks around Africa is $600 billion. So, if you add $500 billion annually and you add it for 30 years, you are growing the economy substantially.”
He, however, said the feat could not be achieved overnight, it must be a policy of government.