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One billion strong: Protecting children’s rights in Africa today and tomorrow

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Today, close to half of Africa’s inhabitants are children. Fueled by steady growth in births and declining mortality rates, the continent’s population aged under 18 will rise 50 per cent by mid-century, topping 1 billion. As the 22nd century dawns, there will be more children in Africa than anywhere else in the world. This expansive growth will bring about great change across the continent, and a great need to ensure each and every child is supported to achieve their full potential. There will be new challenges and opportunities for families and communities, and for African governments and their health, education and legal systems. African states must prepare to meet the needs of their growing young population, and commit to urgent, concrete actions to protect and promote the rights of all children – now and in future generations.

These children’s rights are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). Thirty years since their adoption, this is an opportune moment to examine how well these instruments have fulfilled their mission for African children. How healthy and safe are African children and their mothers? How might their experiences change 10, 20, 30 years from now?

This statistical snapshot presents key data on the lives of African children today and how their experiences will likely shift into the future, providing an evidence-based opportunity to discuss progress, gaps and emerging issues related to child rights in Africa. These data are part of the discussions at the Pan-African Child Rights Forum (PACRiF) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 16 January 2020.