The existing national population structure, where the working group is more than the dependent group, presents a temporary window of opportunity for the economic development of the country.
The National Population Council (NPC) and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), however, say the development potential presented by such a structure, known as demographic dividends, will not automatically translate into sustainable development.
At the launch of a national advocacy video developed to educate the public on the critical role of family planning in national development in Accra, the heads of the institutions said the right policies, with deliberate investment in certain sectors, such as family planning, education, health and governance, were required to harness the potential presented by demographic dividends.
The United Nations Population Fund defines demographic dividend as the economic growth potential that can result when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age (14 and younger and 65 and older) share of the population.
The phenomenon is said to be a boost for economic productivity when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents, indicating that more people have the potential to be productive and contribute to growth of the economy.
The video was produced in partnership with and the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The advocacy campaign documentary was on the theme: “Turning the wheels towards economic prosperity through investment in family planning”.
The Director-General of the NDPC, Dr Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa, said there was no doubt that the country had embraced and provided leadership in family planning since the 1970s.
“But the face of family planning pursuit has changed from health and a social concern to an economic endeavour. Family planning has become a resource for which investment is required and strategic intervention needed to harness.
“One of the key potential economic gains from family planning is the demographic dividend, which is the accelerated economic that may result from rapid decline in a country’s fertility and subsequent change in the population and age structure.
“Total fertility rate increased from 4.4 children per woman, on the average, in 2003 to 4.6 in 2007 and declined to 4.2 and 3.9 in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Maternal mortality has also been dropping, since 2007, from 451 per 1,000 live births to 310 per 1,000 live births in 2017,” he said.
According to Dr Mensah-Abrampa, since 2013, the country had consciously embarked on interventions to harness its demographic dividends by making strategic investments in key areas such as health, education, economy and governance.
He said the framework was mainstreamed into the Medium–Term National Development Policy Framework of 2014-2017 and 2018-2021 for implementation.
The Executive Director of the NPC, Dr Leticia Appiah, said it was important to note that demographic dividends were not automatic but required conscious investment in family planning, education, health, economic reforms and good governance.
Although Ghana has experienced an appreciable decline in fertility since the 1980s, with fertility rate declining from 6.4 in 1988 to 4.2 in 2014 and corresponding dependency ratio, there was still room for further decline.
She said decline happened by focusing on reducing avoidable high risk pregnancies, such as those by teenagers and first-time mothers who were between 35 and 40, through family planning.
“Timely investment in family planning, nutrition, health education and governance transforms human resource to quality human capital is badly needed to reap demographic dividends,” the executive director added.
The UNFPA Country Representative, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, said both young people and declining fertility had the potential to reap the demographic dividends.