WINDHOEK – The Minister of Economic Planning and the Director General of the National Planning Commission, Obeth Kandjoze says labour force participation needs to be increased in order to address the high youth unemployment rates and the mismatch in the labour force.
Youth aged between 15 and 34 constitute about 62 percent of the working population, of which 42 percent are unemployed, he noted.
“Labour force participation needs to be increased by providing employment opportunities to youth in particular. It is in this regard that the NDP5 (National Development Plan) identifies investment in agriculture and skills development as a game changer,” said Kandjoze who spoke at the launch of the Namibia Demographic Dividend study report yesterday.
Kandjoze said that demographic dividend remains central to realising Namibia’s aspiration for economic transformation.
“It is evident that, given the proper investments, population dynamics would play an important role in facilitating high and inclusive growth and poverty reduction,” said the minister.
The large youth population, if well harnessed would spur the country to greater economic achievements, noted the minister. “It is a fact that Namibia is moving very slow in this regard,” stated Kandjoze.
Improvements in the outcomes of education in Namibia will be critical to the continent’s efforts towards harnessing the demographic dividend and serves as one of the most important areas that require strategic investments, said Kandjoze while delivering the keynote address.
According to a study by the National Planning Commission on Education Budget Efficient-Namibia is one of the highest spenders on education but among the lowest in terms of education outcomes in the SADC region, said the minister.
Further, he also touched on health, saying the importance of ensuring good health is key to reducing youth vulnerability and to maximising human capital investment.
It is also critical in speeding up the demographic transition and improving the productivity of the workforce, he stated. Therefore, to harness demographic dividend, it is critical to make strategic investments that would improve health outcomes, he said.
This, especially as relates to access to sexual and reproductive health, including family planning to ensure that women can decide on the number and spacing of their children.
“Harnessing the demographic dividend in the country requires investment in ensuring participatory, representative and inclusive political processes as well as responsive state institutions. This must be premised on the enjoyment, protection and respect for fundamental civil, political and socio-economic rights of young people including young women, who experience dire rights-based challenges,” stated Kandjoze.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative to Namibia, Dennia Gayle also spoke at the launch of the report.
The report is significant to Namibia because it offers a set of policy options that Namibia can adopt to harness the demographic dividend and accelerate Namibia’s achievement of the development aspirations set forth in Vision 2030, said Gayle.
She further commented demographic dividend is an inclusive socio-economic development which can be achieved by utilising the big proportion of the working age population.
“When a household has fewer children that they need to take care of, and a larger number of people who have decent jobs, the household can save and invest more money into each individual. When this happens on a large scale, economies can benefit from a boost in economic growth,” she explained.
Gayle noted countries with the greatest potential to harness the demographic dividend are those undergoing accelerated economic growth, with a large proportion of youth on the cusp of working age.
She added that Namibia’s youth bulge can either be turned into a demographic dividend or a liability. “In other words, it can be a country’s best dividend or it can be a ticking bomb. This is the same for the African continent at large. With over 40 percent of its working-age population between the ages of 15 and 24, Africa is the youngest continent in the world,” said Gayle.
She said realising a demographic dividend requires multiple intersecting investments to empower, educate and employ the country’s young and girls in particular, enabling them to enjoy their human rights to achieve their potential. About 66 percent of the population under the age of 30 are females, she added.
This can further be done by developing and implementing policies that advance gender equality and social protection, including the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination.
Additionally, young people need to be empowered to prepare them for leadership and civic participation and to allow them to make informed decisions, particularly about their health, said Gayle.
2018-10-16 09:07:10 7 months ago