President Yoweri Museveni has called for accelerated investment in human capital development across Africa to improve the quality of the continent's population.
The president told delegates gathered at the 8th African Population Conference at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe on Monday that the wealth of the nation rests on the basement of a well-educated, skilled and innovative population.
In a statement read by vice president Edward Ssekandi, Museveni said a skilled population is critical to the development of the insurance, banking, finance, hospitality, trade and shipping sectors among others. He said investment in the people will position the continent to harness the most from its bulging population in the age group of 15-64 years as the productive age structure of any nation.
The president said, Vision 2040, focuses on improving human capital through universal primary and secondary education, tertiary education and vocational training as well as improved healthcare through immunizations, nutrition, water and sanitation lifestyles among others.
He also called for the protection of the backbone of economic development and the human capital development through improved infrastructure in information, communications and technology, lowering the cost of doing business as well as job creations for the skilled young population to drive development.
According to Museveni, Uganda has made very good progress in achieving inclusive development as evidenced in the increase of the population from 14 million in 1986 to the current 42 million people. Museveni further said Uganda's sustained investment in human capital development has resulted into improvement in life expectancy by 20 years in one generation from 43 years in 1991 to 63.3 years in 2017; reduction in infant mortality rate from 122 in 1986 to 43 for every 1000 live births in 2016 and the fall in maternal mortality from 536 in 1986 to 336 per 100,000 live births in 2016.
"Primary school enrolment has increased to 80 per cent by 2016 while the literacy rate has increased from 54 per cent in 1991 to the current 75 per cent of those who can read and write in their languages. The size of the economy has expanded more than 10 times from Shs 9.5 trillion in 1995/6 to Shs 128 trillion in 2018," he explained.
The director general of health services Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said Uganda's fertility rate remains significantly high at 5.4 children per woman while the rate of population increase is 3 per cent calling for robust measures for development.
Dr Aceng said the population conference is critical in informing planning for such a growing population. Dr Natalia Kanem, the United Nations under secretary and the executive director of United Nations Population Fund urged the conference to make available adequate population data for informing policies on the continent.