15 May 2018

Nigeria: Experts Seek Private Partnership to Harness Demographic Dividends

With a population of 198 million people, and growing at 3.2 per cent, experts have called for partnership from the organised private sector (OPS) players to harness the potential of Nigeria's demography.

Nigeria's population is rising rapidly, and characterised by young demography, but marred by high unemployment and dependency ratios that continue to slow economic growth and development.

To accelerate changes in the age structure of the country's population and reduce the dependency ratio, experts urge private sector operators to invest in youths to enable them reach their full potential.

Investments in good health and education, they said, are among the most significant factors in ensuring transformation from this demographic change, experts said.

Speaking at the first private sector conference on Demographic Dividend in Nigeria in Lagos, Country Director, Population Council, Sylvia Adebajo, said: "The population of Nigeria is increasing rapidly and we need to control the size at which the population is increasing and improve our life expectancy. The government cannot do it alone; the development partners cannot do it alone.

"We need to engage the private sector to contribute to the development of our human capital to achieve demographic dividend."

According to her, the barriers of the country's demographic dividend start from the transition of the population.

Also, the Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Diene Kieta, noted that the shape of the population of any nation determines its level of development, adding that demographic dividend is not automatic, but needs to be planned for.

Kieta, who was represented by his assistant, Osaretin Adonri, said: "We must create the population structure that we want and that structure must be the one that has more of our population working than the percentage that is dependent.

"To be able to increase the population that is working and reduce the dependent population we must start from planning the population and that is where family planning is very important," Adonri said.

Also speaking, Head, Sustainability, Access Bank Plc, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, said: "Demographic dividend is a deliberate thing. It has to be planned, invested and harnessed."

"The public sector and the private sector both have their roles to play. So it is important that there are collaborations to achieve demographic dividends."

"About 65 per cent of our population are youths, they are the future so investing significantly in them while supporting them to maximise their potentials clearly would result in economic growth," she added.

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