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Study day "Challenges and opportunities of population growth and demographic change in Africa"

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BACKGROUND

Following the Secretary General’s announcement of full capability in the Brussels Summit on 11-12 July 2018, the NATO Strategic Direction South (NSD-S) Hub hosted its first study day on 24 July 2018 in Naples, focusing on the challenges and opportunities of population growth and demographic change in Africa.

The purpose of this Study Day was to connect with international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other subject matter experts from Think Tanks and Academia coming from Africa, in order to gain greater understanding of the view of the African stakeholders; establish networks and contacts; identify relationships in the region; and to promote the NSD-S Hub:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

For the last two decades migration has been a key issue when referring to Africa and will continue to be a challenge in coming years. This continent will play a central role in shaping size and distribution of total population over the next decades.

This movement of African people among countries is a lot more diversified than western countries tend to think; it cannot be dubbed as ‘desperation migration’, but mostly as regular. These migration movements are mainly driven by economic development and social transformation; labor demand; environmental degradation and climate change; violence and political oppression; and education. It should also be reminded that the majority of the migration movement is internal to the continent.

Currently, a young age population structure that will lead in the mid/long term to an increase of active workforce was identified as one of the main challenges that African societies will face. Furthermore, the current low agricultural productivity will result in an increasing urbanization.

In this realm, and although some Study Day lecturers hinted that population will surge, this will not cause an invasion of African migrants to Europe. Moreover, they implied that population growth is an opportunity for development in Africa.

Additionally, main economic aspects related to demographic changes are: lack of industrialization, low external trade rates and foreign investment; deficient farming mechanization, external actors’ influence in African countries economies and the need for agreements on how to tackle the external debt.

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