Understanding Population Demographics Shapes Global Political Landscape.

2016. Two events shaped the global news that year. The British Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election victory over Senator Hillary Clinton in the United States Presidential elections. These two events were not supposed to happen, pollsters and political pundits were left jarring.

Much closer to home, Mr. Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) secured a fifth five-year term to lead Uganda.

Population demographics in these places of course vary. The candidates that failed to correctly study these demographics – political demography and tailor their campaigns to the concerns of these citizens could not and did not win.

Pro Brexit campaigners based their campaign on the logic that the United Kingdom is strongest as part of the European Union. They built their case around a sober message centered on the economic risks of a so-called Brexit from the EU. Suddenly in the final month of the race, the message was drowned out by a rancorous argument over migration.

Most states in the United States are multi-cultural. The average white population is 62.8%, African American populace is about 12.6%, Hispanic about 16.9%. Hillary Clinton’s messaging and rhetoric were specifically tailored to the African American and Hispanic demographics.

Hillary failed to understand the impact of Bill Clinton’s controversial legacy of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which expedited the mass incarceration of African-Americans.

The repeal during the Clinton Presidency of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children(AFDC), seen by many as the cornerstone of the American welfare system also worked against her. She also failed to distance herself from Obama’s Cuba policy.

In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni continues to consolidate his core support – the rural populace while exploiting the lethargy towards voting of the younger population. Only 67% of registered voters turned out at last election. Yoweri Museveni managed to win about 60% of the vote compared to Dr. Besigye’s 35%.

The NRM’s astute understanding of population dynamics and their importance to formulating economic, social and political policy in Uganda meant that the National Resistance Movement (NRM) of which Museveni is Chairman, had more appealing Manifesto.

In 2011, the United Nations’ World Population Prospects predicted the global population would be just over 10 billion people at the century’s end. Africa will account for three-quarters (4.1 billion) of the population. Of course, these figures assume that there will be no big dieback.

When you look more carefully at the numbers, you can even identify which regions will be hardest hit, because even in Africa there are large areas where population growth is low and dropping.

In an article written at the start of this decade, Gwynne Dyer avers thus: “Between now and 2100, six countries are expected to account for half of the world’s projected population increase: India, Nigeria, the United States of America, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda. Four of the six are in central Africa.

One of political demography’s many branches seeks to understand how differences in population growth between nation states, religions, ethnic groups and civilizations affects the balance of political power between political actors.

It seeks to understand and inform on the effect of differential ethnic population growth to political stability and economic growth.  It helps to understand, explain and finally plan; especially in Uganda and Africa’s case; the effect of “Youth bulge” on National planning agendas within the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Clearly then, Africa MUST take a keen interest in Population demographics if it is to successfully address its economic challenges in this 21st century. Against this backdrop, Uganda will host the 8th African Population Conference starting 18th-22 November. It will be held under the theme Harnessing Africa’s Population Dynamics for Sustainable Development: 25 Years After Cairo And Beyond.

This conference will bring together researchers, policymakers, programme implementers, civil society, donors and sectoral influencer’s to discuss issues relevant to African population, including (but not limited to) national, regional and continental investments to address rapid urbanization, population growth, sexual and reproductive health, technology, youth, the demographic dividend and capacity building.

The goal of the conference is to assess how Africa, 25 years after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, can harness its unique population dynamics for sustainable development, using rigorous evidence to establish road maps to respond to these critical development challenges.  Follow the conversation on #APC2019UG.

The Writer is a Communication Assistant at Government Citizens Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.