The 8th African Population Conference (APC), the largest scientific meeting on population issues on the continent, is scheduled to commence in the Ugandan city of Entebbe on Monday.
More than 1,000 Population scientists from across the continent, regional and international organisations, researchers, policy makers, representatives of civil society organisations, and non-governmental organisations, are expected to explore ways and means of applying research evidence to improve the well-being of Africans.
The five-day conference, being organised by the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS) in collaboration with the Uganda government, through its National Population Council (NPC) is on the theme "Harnessing Africa's Population Dynamics for Sustainable Development : 25 years after Cairo and Beyond."
The conference, which is held every four years, also creates the platform to examine the state and knowledge gaps regarding various population and development issues facing the African continent.
Professor Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe, President of the UAPS, the largest Pan-African scientific organisation with over 2,000 individual membership, in a statement copied the Ghanaian Times said 25 years after the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the Entebbe conference would offer platform for all stakeholders to discuss how Africa could harness its unique population dynamics for sustainable development.
He said despite the progress made since the adoption of the 1994 ICPD programme of action, considerable challenges still remained and needed to be addressed to sustain the continent's transformation agenda.
Prof. Codjoe said the ICPD which underscored the integral and mutual linkages between population and development, and reinforced by global agreements Millennium Development Goals in 2000, had made giant strides in reducing maternal and infant mortality, HIV related deaths, enhancing women empowerment, enrolment in primary school and bridging of gender gap, improved access to safe drinking water, saving of millions of lives through targeted investment in fighting malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis.
He noted the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, as an ambitious and transformative agenda to eradicate all forms and dimensions by 2030 adding that "eradicating poverty, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge."
The population scientist, also said as complement to the Agenda 2030, Africa took a decisive step by formulating and adopting the Agenda 2063 to transform the continent into "integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own people and representing a dynamic force in the international area."
Prof. Codjoe added that the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development adopted by 53 African countries in 2013 provided the framework for addressing population issues as complementary to ICPD.
Noting all these initiatives, Prof. Codjoe observed that "the challenge that remains is effective implementation of various policies and actions to ensure Africa's population, growth, structure, and distribution do not undermine efforts to reduce poverty, ensure food security, preserve the environment, and improve education, employment and health while ensuring that successes of the MDGs were sustained towards realising the SDGs."
"Today, Africa's high child dependence burden , resulting from the continent's youthful population estimated at 41 per cent less than 15 years in 2017, is widely recognised as a major barrier to its socioeconomic development," Prof. Codjoe said.
"Despite significant declines in fertility and mortality levels among children, women in average continue to have more children than they desired and many children continue to die before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases," he added.