The director-general of the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), Emem Omokaro, has said people now live longer in Africa than they did two decades ago, noting that life expectancy has increased by 11 years.
Ms Omokaro said this in an interview at the 61st session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development (CSocD61) in New York.
CSocD61 is the advisory body for the social development pillar of global development.
Ms Omakaro, who represented Nigeria, presented the ‘Statement of Africa on Fourth Review and Appraisal of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) in Africa 2018-2022: Key Findings and Recommendation’, on behalf of 54 African countries.
She said life expectancy in Africa had increased from 51.7 years in 1990 to 1995 to 62.4 years in 2015 to 2020, corresponding to a 10.7-year gain notably older ages.
According to her, on average, people aged 60 could expect to live a further 17 years.
“Africa’s population of people aged 65 or older has increased from about eight million (3.5 per cent) in 1950 to about 50.3 million (four per cent) in 2017. This figure is estimated to more than triple to 173.6 million by 2050,” she said.
Ms Omokaro explained that the purpose of the review and appraisal was to see the progress of African countries in implementing MIPAA and discuss ways to accelerate it.
MIPAA, adopted in 2002, offers a comprehensive action plan for handling the issue of ageing in the 21st century and for building a society for all ages.
It focuses on three priority areas: older persons and development, advancing health and well-being into old age and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
The Nigerian delegate said the review showed the demographics of older persons were quite significant in Africa and could not be ignored as it was growing at a rate of 0.9 per cent faster than the general population.
“We have 110 million older persons in Africa. And the speed and rates, the rates and the pattern of growth is not the same for all the sub-regions. The northern and southern regions are growing at a faster pace. And then the central and the Western, moderate to new,” noted Ms Omokaro.
She added, “However, the general population is growing and is expected to move from 6.6 per cent in 1992 to 8.3 per cent. That’s quite huge. We are touting the African continent to be a youthful continent, which is true. The absolute numbers of older persons are increasing, along with the challenges.”