There has been a lot of attention paid and interventions designed for family planning in Africa, most recently at the Conference of Value for Money, Sustainability and Accountability, on July 4-5, in Tunisia, and at the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11th.
At the Conference in Tunisia, organized by the Harmonization for Health in Africa Initiative, where Ministers of Finance and Health set out the new health agenda for Africa, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehim, executive director of UNFPA spoke about the urgency for family planning: “Access to services must be across the board… [we must have] an inclusive policy environment that ensures everyone has access and is able to make a choices”.
On July 11th the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation jointly declared that Voluntary family Planning Services will reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the World’s poorest countries by 2020
Why is family planning so important in Africa? It is because of its demographic dividend. Africa’s population is very young. There are more people of working age than there are elderly or young children. With less dependents, Africa’s young working population is a catalyst for strong economic growth.
Africa’s population is also growing fast. It is expected to reach 2.3 billion by 2050, meaning the population of Nigeria will be more than that of the United States. African countries also have some of the of the highest fertility rates in the world, 9 out of 10 of the most fertile countries in the world are in Africa. In order to ensure that the ratio of dependents to working population remains good for growth, Africa has to make concerted efforts in lowering its fertility rates through family planning policies and interventions. This way Africa can capture effectively its demographic dividend.
Read more about Family Planning:
 2011 World Population Data Sheet: The World at 7 Billion, Population Reference Bureau, 2011, http://www.prb.org/pdf11/2011population-data-sheet_eng.pdf