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The largest scientific forum on population issues on the African continent, the African Population Conference organized by Union of Africa Population Studies (UAPS), was held in Pretoria, South Africa from Monday November 30 to December 4.
At the opening ceremony Professor Samuel NiiArdey Codjoe, Vice President of  UAPS and Chair of the international organizing committee of the 7th African Population Conference set the tone of discussions, expressing that investing in the health and education of young people, particularly young girls, can unlock a powerful demographic dividend and set Africa on the path to sustained, inclusive social and economic growth.
The conference’s theme, Demographic Dividend in Africa: Prospects, Opportunities and Challenges is premised on the results of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 global survey, completed by 52 countries in Africa. The survey showed an overwhelming commitment of African nations to the eradication of poverty; creating employment opportunities for youth; ensuring right and access to sexual and reproductive health services; eliminating mother-to child transmission of HIV; increasing women’s access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services; and promoting environmental resources management.
The African Population Conference’s main aim is sharing scientific information on population issues in Africa and on the globe. It also offers a unique opportunity for researchers, policy makers, program managers, development partners and other actors in the field of population to meet and share knowledge. According to the organizers 510 scientific papers were selected from 1518 submitted to the session and out of that oral presentation is 124 formal sessions and 400 posters.  Over 20 of these papers were selected from Ethiopian experts.
Emphasizing the importance of the conference, Professor Samuel NiiArdey Codjoe said “These questions which are at the core of Africa’s socioeconomic development within the context of taking advantage of Africa’s ongoing demographic transition, and the demographic dividends associated with it are some of the issues the Union invited population, health and development scientists to discuss during the 7th African Population Conference.”
Yohannes Dibaba (PhD), Research and Evaluation Head of IPAS Ethiopia, also a panelist and presenter at the conference, told Capital that the conference illustrative of the continent’s the demographic dividend. He stated that Africa has to reduce the fertility rate to ease the population burden on the economy, and pointed out that the gradual reduction in fertility rates across the continent is a promising step forward. Currently 45 percent of the African population is below the age of 15; expected to decline in the coming year.
The African Population Conference is held every four years. The first conference was held in Dakar, Senegal in 1988and the previous, sixth conference was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2011.