Financing Africa’s infrastructure and agricultural development: Inclusive growth for economic transformation

New York, 17 October 2017 –  The case for financing infrastructure and agricultural development was made at the United Nations headquarters during Africa Week.

Chair of the  Africa Group, Mr Mohamed Siad Doualeh, Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations, made the call to look at ways to mobilse resources, investment, capacities, skills and technology in order to facilitate agricultural and infrastructure development in Africa.

As envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Agenda 2063, partnerships will be the essential means of implementation for these development frameworks. In this context, African leaders have prioritised domestic resource mobilisation, through enhancing economic growth, improving the tax system and expanding the tax base, and curbing illicit financial flows while promoting public-private partnerships, and leveraging remittances, financial markets and pension and sovereign wealth funds.

Financing infrastructure and agriculture projects requires an enabling environment that includes adequate skills in project preparation and management, the availability of adequate financial products and institutions, a business friendly environment, adequate hard and soft infrastructure including the legal framework, comprehensive risk management, and political leadership.

H.E Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania , reiterated the need for resources to be increased for agriculture and infrastructure. “Since the Maputo declaration was made in 2003 through Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme [CAADP], many governments have increased their budgetary allocations to agriculture. However, mechanisation is still lacking and a number of challenges still remain. Therefore, more investment in agriculture and infrastructure is needed to achieve inclusive growth,” he said.

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, concurred with H.E Kiwete in stating that agriculuture in Africa was revitalised through CAADP.  “As the development agency of the African Union, NEPAD  implements  continental  strategies and builds coherent plans through frameworks such as CAADP for agriculture and PIDA for infrastrcuture,” Dr Mayaki said. “ These and other continental frameworks are embeded in Agenda 2063 through which regional and national coherence is built,” he added.

Dr Mayaki went on to state that energy is a good example of the link bewteen agriculture and infrastructure. “More bankable projects are needed to attract the much needed investment in infrastrutre, ensuring that returns are high and risks are low.  NEPAD Agency’s desrisking report shows that Africa is not as risky as was perceived,” Dr Mayaki said.

“With the underutilisation of resources, coupled with population growth, Africa has not yet achieved self-sufficency in food security,” Prof Victor Harison, Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission stated.

The Commissioner also remarked that rural infrastructure is essential to accelarate agricultural development, emphasising that infrasturure and agricultural developement are prerequisites for meeting goals in Agenda 2063 and SDGs.

World Bank Senior Vice President, Mr Mahmoud Moheildin’s presentation showed that following a sharp slow down, recovery is underway in Africa, South of the Sahara. GDP in the region is expected to strengthen to 2.4 percent on 2017/18  from 1.3 percent in 2016. However, growth in cereal yields in Africa has been consistently lower than in other years, with infrastructure deficit  holding back growth

Prof Al-Amin Abu-Manga, Member of the African Peer Review Panel of Emminent Persons concluded  that, “Africa has reoruces, what needs to be strengthened is governance thereof.”

Building public health delivery systems that support Africa’s industrialization

New York, 17 October 2017 – “It is a fact that Africa is the second most populous continent in the world, with the population projected to grow by 25% by 2050 and 40% by end of the century. Yet the continent has health challenges that need to be addressed in order to support the growing population,” Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency made the remarks at the organisation’s event during Africa Week in New York.

During the event on Building public health delivery systems that support Africa’s industrialisation, Dr Mayaki underscored the fact that Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals call for promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. Pharmaceutical manufacturing and mining are among the priority sectors identified in AU’s programme for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa (AIDA). Africa requires a healthy workforce in order to realise targets for industrialisation which demands an efficient public health delivery system.

Africa continues to grapple with high disease burden, weak health care delivery systems and fragmented markets for medical products and health technologies.  As the develoment agency of the African Union, NEPAD has taken critcial steps  to address the continent’s disease burden by building systems that provide enabling environment for pharmaceutical sector development. This is through the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) Initiative which provides a sound foundation for strengthening regulatory systems and establishment of strong institutions to ensure long term sustainability.

Other programmes that the NEPAD Agency is facilitating and coordinating in the health sector include, amongst others; malaria vector control, development of research for health and innovation strategy, scientific validation and value addition of herbal remedies in order to promote African Traditional Medicines.

In her opening remarks, NEPAD Agency’s Head of Health Programmes, Mrs Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda maintained that, “You cannot talk of sustainable socio-economic growth without addressing the health of the people who are the drivers of industrialisation.”

During the event, participants explored available options for health financing; promotion of research and development and innovation on medical products and technologies including traditional medicines; local production of medical products and health technologies for stronger health care delivery systems.

Dr Janet Byaruhanga, from NEPAD’s Health programme focused on strenghtening regulatory systems, local production of medical products  and access to finance.  She stressed the need to provide conducive environment for the private sector to secure capital for increased investment  in this sector. In addition, the pharmaceutical sector has huge potential to create jobs for youth through the use of modern technologies.

Speaking on the promotion of investments and creating knowledge based jobs, in improving competitiveness as well as public health,  Dr Paul Lartey, founding Chair of Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (FAPMA), made the case for reliable and sustainable capital for investment in manufacturing and assurance of compliance to good manufacturing practices and standards  in order to produce quality medicines.

The World Bank representative, Dr Andreas Seiter, Global Lead-Private Sector HNP, World Bank remarked that Africa should be proud of the achievements made in medicines regulatory harmonisation initiative. He indicated that progress made this far working through the reginal economic communities is commendable.  He highlited on achievements made in the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the impact of the African Union Model Law on Medical Products Regulation in assisting countries to review their national laws, adding that the momentum should be maintained.

In addition, the NEPAD Agency is investing in the fight against Tuberculosis and other Occupational Lung Diseases in the Mining Industry starting with Southern Africa.  Mrs Chimwemwe Chamdimba, Principal Programme Officer pointed out that TB is the top killer among infectious disesases in Africa. Currently it is being tackled among the most vulnerable populations by looking from three angles: TB and HIV; TB and poverty, and; TB and mining.

Africa Week: Integrated, prosperous, people-centred and peaceful Africa

New York, 16 October 2017 – “The international world must change the way it looks at Africa. Africa is a place of opportunity,” said Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations during the opening session of Africa Week in New York.

Africa Week commenced with a high level event on Supporting an Integrated, Prosperous, People-Centred and Peaceful Africa: Towards the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The rationale for this year’s theme for a prosperous African continent is one where different national economies are seamlessly integrated and the economic and social participation of all citizens is guaranteed and promoted. Governments and partners were therefore urged to work to ensure an environment in which entrepreneurship takes root and flourishes, as a means to stimulate economic growth and with a focus on peace and security.

In his opening remarks, Mr David Mehdi Hamam, Acting Special Adviser on Africa pointed out that the UN agenda is central for Africa’s prosperity and peace. “The question is not whether Africa can achieve its goals, but rather how we can facilitate the continent’s partnerships to achieve these goals. Africa is progressively overcoming its challenges towards the Africa We Want leading up to the World We Want,” Mr Hamam said.

In the same light, Mr Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly reiterated that, “Africa is rising. The World Bank has confirmed that after a period of stagnation, growth on the continent is on the up-swing. Africa is taking charge of its own development.”

Prof Victor Harison, Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission stated that achievements in Africa include implementation of the First Ten Year Plan of Agenda towards integration. “Industrialisation must spearhead development and rural infrastructure development will lead to greater transformation,’ Prof Harison said.

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency focussed on what not to do in order for Africa’s transformation to be realised. He stressed on the need for countries not to implement solutions that contradict regional priorities, if integration is to be attained. With regards to people-centred transformation, Dr Mayaki called for the broadening of partnerships, that is, governments, private sector and civil society. In order to realise a peaceful continent, he emphasised on the need for raising sufficient levels of youth employment through labour intensive industries, coupled with inclusive governance.

Prof Mahamoud Youssouf Khayal, Chairperson, African Peer Review Panel of Eminent Persons, underscored the fact that both Agenda 2063 and 2030 Agenda are people centred, and the African Peer Review Mechanism for Africa is also people centred.

Ms Chinwe Esimai, Managing Director and Chief Anti-Bribery and Corruption Officer,
Citibank, made the point that through Agenda 2063, technology and innovations have the potential to root out corruption and contribute to prosperity.

The events of Africa Week present an opportunity for open discussion on issues that are in line with the implementation of goals set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These two Agendas are mutually reinforcing as they focus attention on inclusive and sustainable structural transformation across all dimensions of sustainability including governance, peace and security and sustainable development.

Growth Without Industrialization?

I share with you a very good article by Dani Rodrik, an economist whom I appreciate very much. This paper also illustrates how reality sometimes goes faster than economists can predict. We must therefore be agile and flexible in our approach to industrialization policies.

Low-income African countries can sustain moderate rates of productivity growth into the future, on the back of steady improvements in human capital and governance. But the evidence suggests that, without manufacturing gains, the growth rates brought about recently by rapid structural change are exceptional and may not last.

CAMBRIDGE – Despite low world prices for the commodities on which they tend to depend, many of the world’s poorest economies have been doing well. Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth has slowed precipitously since 2015, but this reflects specific problems in three of its largest economies (Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa). Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda are all projected to achieve growth of 6% or higher this year. In Asia, the same is true of India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

This is all good news, but it is also puzzling. Developing economies that manage to grow rapidly on a sustained basis without relying on natural-resource booms – as most of these countries have for a decade or more – typically do so through export-oriented industrialization. But few of these countries are experiencing much industrialization. The share of manufacturing in low-income Sub-Saharan countries is broadly stagnant – and in some cases declining. And despite much talk about “Make in India,” one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s catchphrases, the country shows little indication of rapid industrialization.

Full article here

Malnutrition is not just hunger, it is also a mortgage on the future of our populations

There is sometimes pleasing news about the progress of our continent. Recently, for example, a report of the Malabo-Montpellier Panel was published as part of the Forum for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRF), which met in Abidjan. This report, entitled Food: How can Africa build a future without hunger or malnutrition?, reported that many African countries have been able to drastically reduce malnutrition over the past 15 years. But what is stressed above all by the food security experts involved in this study is that these good results have been achieved through strong political will in each of the states concerned.

 Disparities remain large by country, but the report points out that the proportion of people suffering from hunger has declined overall from 28 to 20% in Africa between 1990 and 2015. However, the total number of people is increasing due to population growth which is indeed a multiplier of the problems of our countries (see previous articles).

According to the report, “some countries have made remarkable progress. Senegal, Ghana and Rwanda all reduced the number of people suffering from malnutrition and the number of children suffering from stunting by more than 50%. Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Togo have achieved reductions of more than 40%. “

Panel Co-Chair Joachim von Braun explains that “Governments are able to fight malnutrition when they put it first in their agenda and in their inter-ministerial implementation programs and in close collaboration with partners. Investment is needed for crisis prevention and the development of programs to build resilience to climate stress“.

Several initiatives are highlighted in the Panel’s report because they have borne fruits in countries as varied as Angola, Senegal or Ghana. In Angola, a multisectoral approach to reducing malnutrition and coordinating actions and programs at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture supported by the Ministry of Health has greatly contributed to the successful outcome of the National Food and Nutrition Security Strategy. In Senegal, a unit to fight malnutrition was set up in 2001, followed by the launch of the Nutrition Enhancement Program in 2002. Finally, in Ghana, which has succeeded in halving the number of inhabitants affected by hunger, the authorities have decided to integrate the nutritional issue at all levels of government policy.

It should be remembered that malnutrition is not just hunger. Indeed the fact of eating poorly and not eating enough, has long lasting and profound consequences on the physical, but also mental development of children, and these consequences will always be there when these children become adults, especially intellectually. Secondly, there are obviously consequences of malnutrition that are part of public health. This question must therefore be taken very seriously by the rulers.

A simple example: contrary to what one might think, Africa is also threatened by obesity. Experts reminded us: “The consumption of low-cost, low-nutritional foods, as well as the reduction of physical activity in the middle class, increase the levels of obesity. The estimated prevalence of obesity among children is expected to reach 11% by 2025.

Finally, the report points out that despite these encouraging results, much remains to be done. “Significant challenges still need to be addressed. To achieve the goals set out in the African Union’s Declaration of Malabo and Agenda 2063, governments must learn from their past successes and redouble their efforts to address the triple scourge of hunger, malnutrition and obesity on the continent said co-chairman of the Panel, Dr. Ousmane Badiane.

Climate change is of course a particularly important threat, but also urbanization, which is causing a lot of pressure on food producers.

Human capital: Africa still has a lot of progress to make

The World Economic Forum recently published a report on an often difficult to measure reality: the economic value of human capital. The report, titled Global Human Capital Report 2017, measures the knowledge and its levels that enable human beings to contribute to the global economy throughout their lives. Each of the 130 countries studied in the world is ranked in this index, which unfortunately no doubt shows that Africa is lagging behind.

As often in these rankings, the United States and Western Europe are at the top, with a rate of more than 70% of development of their human capital. For their part, the countries of Africa, like those of Southeast Asia and the Middle East, are below 60%. On average, sub-Saharan Africa scored 52.97%, and this region ranks last good, according to the report. However, there are disparities in Africa that are sources of inspiration: countries such as Rwanda (71), Ghana (72), but also Cameroon (73) and Mauritius (74) the 60%. There is therefore no fatality. We will come back on this idea.

The World Economic Forum’s report explains that it has studied 26 countries south of the Sahara among which there is a great disparity of wealth. But, “despite this comparatively high regional diversity in income levels, the Sub-Saharan African region exhibits a number of similar patterns across all age groups and aspects of its human capital potential profile. In particular, Sub-Saharan Africa scores highly on the Deployment subindex, due to high labour force participation, with five of the top 10 countries hailing from the region”.

However, with below-average Capacity and Know-how subindex scores, the region as a whole has much to benefit from developing a greater share of its human capital from deployment beyond routine occupations”, experts noted. They are also concerned that the most economically and / or most populous economies remain at the bottom of the scale.

Thus, Nigeria and Ethiopia are at the bottom of the ranking, respectively in ranks 114 and 127. However, to moderate this finding, these two countries are also the most populous in Africa. South Africa, considered one of Africa’s leading economies with Nigeria, is ranked 87th. But the report is not just bad news. The two top-ranked countries in the region, Rwanda (71) and Ghana (72), owe their comparatively strong performance to, respectively, almost completely closed education and employment gender gaps and significantly improved educational attainment of the country’s younger generations. “Like Kenya (78), both countries benefit from the stock of know-how embodied in large medium-skilled employment sectors and comparatively strong education quality and staff training, laying the foundation for building their future human capital potential. However, all three countries still have room for further improvement in their secondary education enrolment rates, ensuring this progress is shared as broadly as possible across their populations”, the report stressed.

Quality secondary education is the cornerstone of the entire education system because it corrects the deficiencies of primary education and prepares adequately for tertiary education. The example of these countries demonstrates that there is a need for it, that there is no inevitability, and that Africa can also, when it conducts good policies, achieve successes. In the global competition for human capital, Africa with its growing youth, of course has a card to play.  In particular, it must ensure the training of its young people in the trades that are lacking on the continent: engineers, financiers, economists, miners, among others. There are pools of developing jobs, but the shortage of skilled African personnel forces investors to hire expatriates in certain sectors requiring special skills. There, too, there is no fatality.

Tourism is a key-sector for inclusive growth in Africa

One of the consequences of globalization is that “the world has become flat” if I were to appropriate the expression of the American columnist Thomas Friedman. Indeed, the development of transport, in particular air transport, and the consecutive decline in prices, have led, among other things, to a sharp increase in tourist flows. This not counting the window opened on the world by internet making us want to go to discover the world beyond our garden.

Africa also benefits from the increase in tourism flows. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the continent welcomed 57.8 million tourists in 2016, 4.4 million more than in 2015. According to UNWTO projections, tourism in Africa could reach 134 million by 2030. In its 2017 report on African economic development, UNCTAD draws our attention to the economic importance of tourism on the African continent: tourism accounts for 6.8% African GNP and represents more than 21 million jobs (about one in fourteen jobs). In total, tourism is the continent’s second largest sector.

One of the interesting points highlighted in the UNCTAD report is the fact that it is the Africans themselves who are increasingly driving tourism demand in Africa. Indeed, four out of ten international tourists are Africans. Tourism is a sector especially interesting to study because it reflects the stakes of our continent: the weight of Africans in international tourism in Africa underlines the emergence of an African middle class, while the obstacles to its development are the same as for the economy in general: lack of infrastructure, energy deficit, hindrances to the movement of people…

Africa has such an untapped potential. Indeed, these figures must be put into perspective as tourism accounts about 10% of GDP elsewhere in the world. If the total number of tourists is reported to the continent’s population (about 1.2 billion), the figure of 57.8 million tourists is low. Let us recall that a country like France welcomes more tourists (about 83 million) than it has inhabitants (about 66 million) …

However, like other sectors of the African economy, tourism in Africa could benefit from the digital revolution. A new generation of entrepreneurs wants to show another side of Africa, more authentic, by showing other things than the classics of African tourism. Three innovative projects (Tastemakers Africa, Hip Africa, Visit Africa) led by diaspora entrepreneurs participate to the change of the image of the continent. The use of social networks is a powerful marketing tool for these websites, notably with Instagram.

NEPAD also addressed this issue through the Nepad Tourism Action Plan (TAP) on the recommendation of the African Conference of Tourism Ministers. The TAP will serve as a roadmap for sustainable tourism for the African continent. The plan focuses on six key points: the political and legislative environment of tourism; its institutional capacity; tourism marketing; R & D; investment in infrastructure and tourism products; human resources and quality control. NEPAD considers tourism as a powerful tool for both regional integration and socio-economic development that supports poverty reduction.

I will therefore speak on this theme of improving the engine of growth in Africa through sustainable tourism during a round table that we will organize on September 21 at the 72nd session of the the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). According to me, tourism is a real opportunity as it can be used for transformative and inclusive growth, in particular by facilitating the inclusion of vulnerable communities and by participating in the preservation of our environment.

Protecting wild fauna is a sovereignty challenge

Africa often makes headlines in the international media for poaching, which I deplore and strongly condemn. By 2015, a Minnesota dentist had provoked an international outcry by shooting down the famous Cecil lion in Zimbabwe during a “big game sport hunt”. But we forget that poaching does not only kill animals, it also kills our fellow citizens. A few weeks ago, famed South African elephant advocate Wayne Lotter fell in ambush in Dar Es Salaam, killed in cold blood by two hooded men. Wayne Lotter was an icon of the honorable fight for the protection of wildlife in Africa, but let us not forget that every day thousands of people are involved in this cause, sometimes at the risk of their lives.

The trap would be to believe that these events, although repetitive, remain only isolated incidents. One could imagine that they are the act of some scattered traffickers or hunters with the archaic mentality of cowboys. The development of reserves and the strengthening of wildlife protection laws would almost lead us to believe that everything has been done to avoid the extinction of certain species on the African continent.

On 7 September, the NGO TRAFFIC published a study on illegal ivory trade in five Central African countries [i]. This study is overwhelming for two reasons: not only are more and more powerful criminal networks at work, but they benefit mainly from the weak governance of some African countries. While states have actually passed stricter legislation against ivory trade with increased enforcement efforts, small retailers and sculptors are the main victims. However, these initiatives remain insufficient in a context where transnational underground criminal networks increasingly take up ivory trafficking.

One of the factors explaining in particular the virtual disappearance of the local markets where ivory was sold for clandestinity is the new takeover of Asian traffickers, essentially Chinese, present from end to end of the chain of this shadow trade. Asia is the central source of demand for ivory, but supply is mainly in Africa. Faced with these transnational crime networks, states must deploy all means to prevent poaching and arrest these criminals. Unfortunately, a member of the NGO, Sone Nkoke, explains that traffickers regularly “benefit from the weakness of state governance as well as from collusion, confusion and corruption of authority”. Without the complacency and corruption of high-ranking people, it is indeed difficult to imagine that such trafficking can take place.

The problem of the illegal trade in ivory is a perfect example to illustrate the complexity of acting in a globalized world. At the local level, states must effectively strengthen their governance and law enforcement, raise awareness and involve local communities in these issues, which are ecological and human disasters. But transnational crime requires, as the name suggests, a global response. Cooperating with Asian countries to dismantle these trafficker networks and incite them to prohibit ivory trade is fundamental to the hope of saving African elephants. Surely, Beijing’s commitment to close its domestic ivory market by the end of the year is going in the right direction.

Protecting African elephants from extinction is therefore more than an ecological issue. It is also a human drama unfolding before our eyes. Poachers and criminals do not hesitate to assassinate our fellow citizens by the greed of “white gold”. But it is also a matter of political sovereignty: as long as these traffickers are rampant in Africa, they will be a reflection of our failure to enforce and respect the law. Can a State that is not capable of protecting its wildlife be capable of protecting its fellow citizens? Surely, this is a question that all our governments must ask themselves today.

South Africa, Nigeria: turning growth into wealth for all

For the past few days, economists and analysts have been cautiously pleased that two economic locomotives in Africa are returning to positive growth rates. Nigeria and South Africa, which have competed for years as the continent’s leading economies, are experiencing a growth rate of 0.55% and 2.5% respectively.

These numbers are positive, but is that enough? These statistics are only a reflection of a situation at a given moment, the expression of some interesting performances in certain areas, in particular agricultural or mineral raw materials. The economic agency Bloomberg explains in this regard that “both economies had agriculture largely to thank: in South Africa, a bumper corn harvest following the worst drought in more than a century saw the sector surge 34 percent from the prior quarter, while in Nigeria, where farming vies with industries as the second-biggest contributor to GDP, it increased 3 percent from a year earlier despite the period being in the planting season”. In both countries, as in others, growth remains fragile. A slight change in world prices (cereals, oil, for example) can reduce the economy.

The political and security situation can also affect investment, and therefore growth capacity. And then the situation of these two countries is very different: Nigeria is the leading producer of crude oil and the most populous country in Africa today and needs at least 3% growth just to absorb the growth of its population. I am not even talking about creating enough jobs for all the young people who arrive every year on the labor market.

South Africa remains the most industrialized country on the continent, but its population, so its market, is not very large. The country already has important infrastructure, including nuclear power plants, and significant natural resources, but is it sufficient to maintain a high rate of growth that ensures a better standard of living for all?

The link between growth and the well-being of populations, which might seem obvious, is not an absolute rule. The example of Nigeria is enlightening, because if the country finally emerges from one of the worst economic phases of its history, it should be remembered that between 2004 and 2010, when its economy grew on average 8.32% per year, observers noted with surprise that the level of poverty was increasing from 54.7% to 60.9% of the population.

The growth of the economy does not mean an equitable distribution of wealth. Nigeria is no exception to a trend seen elsewhere, namely the widening gap between the very rich and the very poor, and the large increase of the very poor share of the population.

Only long-term growth-sustaining programs and equitable redistribution of the fruits of this growth can lead to an improvement in the situation over time.

Faced with the galloping demographics, what public policies?

I am following up with my latest thoughts on the demographic transition that our continent is experiencing. We have posed the problem in its major trends in our last post, but it is also appropriate, I believe, to see how we can deal with this phenomenon.

One of the levers on which it is possible to act to better control the growth of the population is fertility. It has been said that this involves the education of girls and young women and raising awareness about the challenges of an uncontrolled population increase. Unfortunately, some leaders still view population’s growth as a mark of power, and rely on the so-called demographic dividend, but too often forget that this dividend is only possible if everything else follows, from infrastructure to health specialists and schoolteachers.

Let me explain: without effective education and health infrastructures, without decent jobs creation by the millions, younger generations will not be well trained, will not enter the labor market and will not be healthy. They will therefore be able to participate only at the margin in the national economic wealth creation, if these young people still live long enough to become active workers and find a job. Another growing phenomenon, due in large part to the lack of good education and health infrastructures, is the ever-growing illegal migration phenomenon. Indeed, it seems obvious that the tens of thousands of young people who cross the Sahara then the Mediterranean Sea at the risk of their lives and also take the risk of leaving everything, are part of this issue because they feel they have nothing to lose in this adventure. This message of despair must challenge us, because if the population continues to grow at this rate, emigrants will be more and more numerous.

Governments must therefore look at ways and means to lower the fertility rate. We have already ruled out coercion to achieve this goal. But there are other strategies, other public policies that can be tried or implemented. This has been seen in some countries, such as South Africa, Kenya and Malawi. In Ethiopia, for example, the government has set up a tight network of 42,000 community health workers. These have reduced the cost of health expenditures by 39% between 2005 and 2015, which is already a good achievement in itself, but they have also helped raise awareness among millions of women about birth control. This experience could be expanded to other countries, or even to the entire continent.

Another possible lever is family planning. In 2011, nine governments in West Africa, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and several large private foundations signed an agreement, the “Ouagadougou Partnership”, intended to promote family planning. There are religious, political and social obstacles, but family planning remains one of the proven methods of reducing fertility, provided access to reliable contraceptive methods is available. In this area also public policies can be put in place. And if states do not want to engage directly, they can support and encourage free work on the part of some specialized NGOs.

According to the available studies, in 2013 worldwide, 63% of women aged 15-49 years who are in a couple used a contraceptive method, and 57% a modern method (pill, IUD or sterilization). But for sub-Saharan Africa, only an average of 20-25% of women had access to contraception, with some countries falling below 10%, such as Mali and Eritrea.

As such, North Africa is an exception on the continent. Algeria, Egypt, Morocco or Tunisia have experienced faster population transitions with a current fertility rate of between two to three children per woman. A figure that can be linked to the high proportion of contraceptive use: between 60% and 68%. South of the Sahara, only South Africa is getting near this global average with 60%.

This demonstrates that public policies can effectively address the challenge of reducing fertility. We just have to do it.