Demography and COVID-19 in Africa: Evidence and Policy Responses to Safeguard the Demographic Dividend
The emergence of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused major health, social and economic upheavals that present an indispensable need for demographers and policy makers in Africa to consider the emergent evidence, the interaction between the pandemic and population dynamics, and the implications for socio-economic well-being, and in the long run, for the demographic dividend. It also calls for the need to scale up the generation of evidence and effective monitoring of impacts in order to inform interventions. The immediate impact of COVID-19 on morbidity and mortality in Africa has not been as severe as initially predicted by various models, with a low number of cases compared to other world regions. In addition, the situation is still fluid and evolving and some countries in the continent are experiencing a more severe second wave of the pandemic. However, the pandemic’s immediate impact on the social and economic well-being of populations in the continent has been profound. The long-term implications of the pandemic on the continent and on the prospects of African countries to harness the demographic dividend are also likely to be serious and a robust evidence-informed response, reinforced by an effective measurement and monitoring system, is required in order to mitigate against these adverse effects. This report summarises the proceedings of a webinar series whose objectives were to: (i) create a space for sharing a demographic perspective on the impacts of COVID-19 with partners on the continent, considering its implications for Africa to reach a demographic dividend and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aspirations of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063; and (ii) develop policy recommendations that South Africa and the continent can implement now and in the protracted response and early post-pandemic recovery period to safeguard the demographic dividend. While governments in Africa have taken an array of prevention and response measures against the pandemic, these measures have had disruptive implications that have mainly affected the health sector, education and training, and jobs, among others. To safeguard the demographic dividend from the impact of COVID-19 and similar future public health emergencies, governments will have to come up with strategic and targeted short and long-term recovery measures.