“South-South Cooperation and Achievement of Demographic Dividend in Africa”
Opening Remarks by Mr. Nicholas Rosellini
United Nations Resident Coordinator in China
2nd China-Africa Conference on Population and Development
9th July 2018
- Honorable Vice Minister, National Health Commission Madam Cui Li,
- Honorable Ministers from Africa here present,
Representative of Guangdong Provincial Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to address the opening of the second China-Africa Conference on Population and Development. On behalf of the United Nations System in China, I extend appreciation to the organizers of the conference – the Chinese Government, China Population and Development Research Center, China Population Association, and UNFPA, for organizing this conference with support from the government representatives and experts from the participating African countries and China. We also warmly welcome all the participants who have come a long way to Guangzhou for the conference.
The theme of the conference reflects a critical issue of “harnessing demographic dividend” for accelerated development which is relevant to the development contexts of many African countries. Today, the proportion of young people aged 10-24 accounts 28 percent of the world population and the proportion is the highest in Africa with 31 percent.
We know that there is tremendous opportunity for rapid economic growth and social progress resulting from the demographic transition. As a large group of young people emerges, reaches maturity and enters the labor force, if this group of young people is healthy, educated, skilled, productive and empowered, it can boost economies and advance development which is regarded as the first demographic dividend. A critical pathway for the development of Africa is realizing this first demographic dividend. However, at the heart of the demographic dividend is having quality human capital, particularly through investment in young people.
China, the most populous country in the world has successfully harnessed the first demographic dividend. During the four decades of China’s opening up and reform, the country has made significant social and economic progress and become the world’s second largest economy where investments made in health, education and employment opportunities for younger generations paid off.
For African countries that are going through demographic transitions at the different stages and that are having a growing youthful population, many lessons can be learned from China’s experience.
China is also experiencing complex population and development issues resulting from the longstanding low fertility, rapidly ageing population, and massive rural to urban migration, which place significant pressures on social services, investments and infrastructure. Investing in health and education, strengthening human and physical capital, and promoting technological progress and labor productivity, is not only essential for harnessing the first demographic dividend, but also for responding effectively to population ageing – which is the inevitable next step in the demographic transition. Such investments are indeed required for reaping a second demographic dividend or longevity dividend.
It is thus an area where many developing countries including China and African countries can exchange knowledge, expertise, and experience to better respond to current and future challenges.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 SDGs, is the global blueprint for peace, prosperity and partnership for people and the planet. The SDGs set out a transformative, integrated platform for investing in young people, and recognize the centrality of empowering and enabling women and young people, including for realizing the demographic dividend.
In Africa, the continental development vision ‘Agenda 2063’ also calls for investments in education and skills development as well as health for prosperity by 2063. Demographic dividend is also at the core of the African Youth Charter and in many decisions taken by AU Ministerial forums and organs.
African nations have prioritized the advancement of young people through various development policies and programmes. However, systematically planning, implementing, monitoring and resourcing those policies and programmes will be critical for harnessing demographic dividend from a youthful population.
China is committed to deliver the SDGs at home, with the target of eradication of extreme poverty in the country by 2020. China is also committed to support other developing countries in achieving the SDGs through international development cooperation. China is increasingly playing a prominent role in international development cooperation, particularly South-South Cooperation. According to an estimation, China’s net foreign aid reached USD 5.8 billion in 2016, which would rank it 7th among the top 13 development assistance providers. Yet, this hardly represents the complete picture of development cooperation provided by China.
China-Africa cooperation has been advanced through the FOCAC, South-South cooperation and now the Belt and Road Initiative. Recently, HE. Minister for Foreign Affairs – Mr. Wang Yi pointed out that “FOCAC is a key platform for the collective dialogue and cooperation between China and African countries, ….the FOCAC has already become a model of South-South cooperation and a banner of international cooperation with Africa”. He also emphasized that the upcoming FOCAC Beijing Summit in September, which is themed "Win-win cooperation and join hands to build a closer community with a shared future for China and Africa", would elevate China-Africa strategic cooperative partnership to a new level. This would present opportunities for strengthened cooperation between China and African countries to address root causes of poverty and inequality, and generate systematic and sustained impact for achieving the SDGs.
The UN system in China supports China’s increasing role in international affairs, promoting global and regional dialogues and expanding South-South Cooperation to assist other developing countries for the achievement of the SDGs within the contexts and needs of the developing countries. UNFPA China has been actively engaged with the Government of China and Chinese partners to facilitate and promote the South-South and Triangular cooperation on Population and Development through various means, which is appreciated and valued. With the establishment of China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), more opportunities will be opened up for mutually beneficial, demand driven south–south initiatives between China and African countries. It is our hope that all of these development cooperation efforts will yield sustainable impact on eradication of poverty and inequality, and effectively address environmental issues that benefit all.
I wish you all a successful conference and look forward to insightful dialogues and discussions in the next two days.