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A country’s ‘demographic dividend’, the economic benefits that it reaps from its age pyramid, often accrues when an increase in the proportion of a country’s working-age population (typically arising from declining fertility) is accompanied by public authorities’ and private organization’s effective investments in health, women’s empowerment, education and employment.

A number of African countries have entered (or are in the process of entering) this phase of demographic transition. Continent-wide, this could represent an estimated benefit of up to US$500 billion every year over a 30-year period, boosting economies and enabling hundreds of thousands of people to escape from poverty and improve their quality of life. However, the demographic dividend isn’t automatic; capturing it requires immediate multisectoral  and targeted investments.

I proudly present this Demographic Dividend Programming Guide, which makes concrete recommendations for decision makers who are setting up a comprehensive national policy to harvest the demographic dividend. It is a unique toolkit, based on a nine-step programme, translates the demographic dividend concept into political measures.

This Programming Guide was produced by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through its West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO), with the financial support of the World Bank. It is part of a commitment UNFPA made five years ago to support the African Union’s efforts to rally stakeholders around the demographic dividend in order to achieve the objectives of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas. As the leading UN agencyfor Population and Demography, UNFPA has performed extensive research work to understand the demographic dividend phenomenon by analyzing previous experiences, drafting recommendations and implementing projects in the regions concerned by this issue.

This Programming Guide originally aimed to offer orientation and guidance for the Sahel countries participating in the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) Programme of WCARO. However, as it became clear that the demographic dividend would be a central issue for the whole continent in the coming decades, the Programming Guide broadened its range of action to become an instrument for implementing the African Union Roadmap on the Demographic Dividend for all AfricanMember States interested in following this political path. Therefore, thoughthe analysis heavily relies on data provided by the initially targeted Western African countries, the recommendations and conclusions drawn for every operational step can be of use to and adapted by countries outside of the region.

We would like to thank the Centre de recherche en économie et finance appliquées de Thiès (CREFAT) for the data provided and the work accomplished with the SWEDD countries in this area.

The West and Central Africa Regional Office and I sincerely hope you will find this publication useful and will find the information and tools needed to embrace the path towards reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend in your country.

Mr Mabingué Ngom

Regional Director

West and Central African Regional Office

United Nations Population Fund