Government of Malawi, UAPS, AFIDEP welcome Africa’s population scientists
22 May 2024
Author: Adaudo Anyiam-Osigwe
Malawi's President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, Iceland's Prime Minister, Mr Bjarni Benediktsson, with dignitaries including AFIDEP's Dr Eliya Zulu and Prof. Nyovani Madise at the opening ceremony of the 9th Annual Population Conference on 20th May 2024, Malawi.

The Republic of Malawi welcomed over 600 participants to the 9th African Population Conference (APC), taking place on 20–24 May 2024, in the capital city of Lilongwe. The theme, “Road to 2030: Leveraging Africa’s Human Capital to Achieve Transformation in a World of Uncertainty”, reflects the current make-or-break moment towards achieving global and regional development goals.

Regarded as the largest scientific meeting on population issues, the APC is held every four years, and organised by the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS). This year’s conference is hosted by the Government of Malawi, with support from the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners.

Speaking at the opening ceremony to welcome all participants, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, noted that the “youthful and enterprising population of Africa is a resource we must harness and equip.” He further noted that Africa needs platforms of synergy, inclusivity, institutionalisation, digitisation, and partnership to “leverage our demographic dividend by nurturing, empowering, and deploying our people…taking bold action to invest in our human capital, including ambitious targets with respect to early childhood development, the education of girls, and the end of child marriage by 2030.”

The Prime Minister of Iceland, Mr Bjarni Benediktsson, also in attendance at the opening ceremony, added that Africa’s young population, predicted to make up over 40% of the world’s youth by 2030 “presents an incredible opportunity”. “With energy and creativity, Africa’s youth will shape the future not only of their country and the continent, they will sure shape the future of the world,” he commended.

The optimism for the African continent at the start of the 21st century galvanised ambitious commitments for socioeconomic development through mechanisms such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU Agenda 2063, both adopted in 2015. However, as outlined by the President of UAPS, Dr Donatien Beguy at the opening, Africa is off track in achieving 16 out of the 17 SDGs due to underinvestment in human capital, gender inequality and poor governance across the continent. Emerging challenges such as the climate crisis, armed conflict, and COVID-19 pandemic have served as further impediments towards achieving sustainable development.

The ninth conference in Malawi is poised to continue upholding the APC’s role of providing a platform to present and discuss pertinent issues at the intersection of Africa’s sustainable development and population dynamics. This year, the Conference will consider transformative policies and actions that can help revitalise Africa’s human capital and have it as a vital solution for the continent’s development. Particular issues to be discussed include sustainable financing for family planning; the interconnectedness of population dynamics, environmental sustainability and socioeconomic development; and advancements in health management systems and vital statistics.

Moreover, expected dialogues at the conference will guide the translation of research on Africa’s population into policy and programmes. Scientists, researchers, policymakers, government officials, youth leaders, civil society practitioners, and private sector leaders will be in attendance. The Population and Development Parliamentary and Policy Forum within the 9th APC, in which AFIDEP serves as the secretariat for its organisation and coordination, will have ministers, parliamentarians, and other policymakers engage in specially organised sessions.

“I like the tone set on the opening day where the President and other speakers highlighted the central value of evidence-based investments to move from rhetoric to action in transforming Africa’s growing population into quality human capital to engineer the continent’s socioeconomic transformation,” Dr Eliya Zulu, AFIDEP’s Executive Director noted. “Another key feature of the African Population Conference is the Population and Development Parliamentary and Policy Forum where parliamentarians, heads of population secretariats, and other policymakers are networking, sharing experiences and defining actions to close the gaps between policies and actions in optimising the relationship between population change and sustainable development.”

With children 15 years and below making up over 40% of Africa’s current population, outcomes from the conference can offer renew hope and expand opportunities to harness the continent’s demographic dividend this century. Visit for more details about the conference.