Experts from the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences and other institutions called on the Ethiopian government to amend the existing population policy in order to reduce fertility rate and realize the national demographic dividend at a consultative meeting held on Friday, July, 2021 at Capital Hotel.
At the policy dialogue meeting on ways of realizing demographic dividend through focusing on human capital developments, the experts advised policymakers to change the existing narrative that population is not a pressing issue for the country.
“While most Ethiopians are in a precarious employment situation, the increasing population size is posing a high level of economic dependency,” said Christian Johannes, Oxford University Professor.
“In tandem with the reduction of fertility, through investing in quality health systems, education and creating favorable jobs, the government should harness the opportunity of the younger generation,” he added.
According to Johannes, job creation in urban areas is still a huge burden to Ethiopia and the 64 million existing labor force is expected to grow to 94 million by 2035, a two million increase per year.
Despite some predictions, like that of Trading Economics, showing the unemployment rate in Ethiopia at 21.60 percent by the end of 2021, experts fear that there is no evidence based data clearly indicating accurate data at national level.
In order to reach agreeable population policy, there should be an open discussion over every single sensitive issue and engage honestly and critically with science, added Johannes.
President of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Tsige Gebre-Mariam (Prof.), pointed out the importance of building a quality education system that can produce inquisitive and critical thinkers who could transform the lives of many people through science.
Studies indicate that Ethiopia experiences vast differences in fertility across the regions and socio economic levels. In urban areas, women have on average only 2.2 children over their lifetime, whereas women in rural areas have 4.5 children.
Tegbar Yigzaw (MD), a health expert speaking at the meeting, said that it will not be easy to realize demographic dividends unless fertility is reduced. He further noted that the situation exacerbates the already large dependency ratio in the country.
According to Tegbar, the Ethiopian ten-year government perspective plan introduced just a few months ago does not clearly stipulate the strategy to reducing fertility rate. In this regard, he recommends devising clear laws and policies to manage the over inflating population and increasing public demand.