(August 2017) Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is poised to emerge as an important global player, registering impressive economic growth averaging 4.7 percent annually over the last two decades. However, it scores lowest among major world regions in key factors of economic competitiveness and faces growing environmental challenges that inhibit both economic and human development. More than one-third of people living in SSA have no access to improved drinking water, a problem that disproportionately affects women, girls, and those living in rural areas.

Sustaining SSA’s economic development will require the region to move towards more productive activities and address persistent economic and environmental challenges. Population trends—especially shifts towards lower fertility rates and less youthful age structures—can enhance development prospects, including savings and investment, labor productivity, political stability, and access to natural resources such as water.

The linkages between family planning, inclusive economic growth, and resilience in SSA are featured in a new suite of materials from the Policy, Advocacy, and Communication Enhanced for Population and Reproductive Health (PACE) Project, generously supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Distilled from the PACE report Fostering Economic Growth, Equity, and Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Family Planning, three policy briefs and two infographics highlight the effects of population age structure and fertility rates on SSA’s public institutions, workforce productivity, and access to water. Effective development policies and programs must urgently address the needs of SSA’s largely youthful population and future generations to improve employment prospects, mitigate the scarcity of natural resources, and promote more equitable economic development.