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Preparations are underway for the 18th Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa to be held in Dakar, Senegal, from 25-26 March 2017 under the theme; “UN System Support to Harnessing Demographic Dividend Through Investments in the Youth.”

The theme will allow high-level participants, including the UN Deputy Secretary General, to discuss Africa’s significant asset, the youth, and how they can be harnessed for sustainable growth.

Studies indicate that Africa will account for 3.2 billion of the projected 4 billion increase in the global population by 2100. The same studies also point to Africa’s working age population, particularly the youth, rising by 2.1 billion over the period, compared to a net global increase of 2 billion.

“This meeting presents an opportunity for the United Nations system and the African Union to dialogue on ways of advancing Africa’s development agenda,” says Economic Commission for Africa’s Acting Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdok.

He adds active collaboration will help sharpen the continent’s focus on strategies to speed up the demographic transition, and create conducive conditions for harnessing the demographic dividend, including the development of frameworks for increased active and productive participation of the youth in economic activities.

Participants will also deliberate on strategies for strengthening the collaboration between all the partners involved in RCM-Africa.

The meeting, which will be held back to back with the joint Annual Ministerial Conference of the ECA and the African Union Commission (AUC), also being held in Dakar from 23-28 March 2017 on the theme, “Growth, inequality and unemployment”, will also discuss the implementation of the renewed framework of United Nations-African Union Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agenda (PAIDA).

Also under discussion would be the work programme of the RCM-Africa for 2017 and 2018, ensuring that new clusters are appropriately aligned to support the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.