NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – African countries have been urged to register child births, to guarantee the children a legal status and have access to the social services provided by their respective governments.,
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) argues that only 44 percent of the continent’s children, under the age of five, are registered as citizens with the other 56 percent remaining invisible to governments.
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Martin Mogwanja said the bulk of Africa’s children were cut off from the legal protection crucial to their survival.
“Africa’s greatest resource is its children yet the aspirations of the continent can only be truly achieved when children have their rights to survival, development and protection realised,” he said in a statement issued as part of celebrations to mark the AU’s 50th anniversary.
“The first step on that road is making sure that every child, no matter where they are, is counted and given a legal identity.”
He added that unregistered children were most at risk of child labour, recruitment into armed militia, human trafficking, early marriages and other forms of exploitation.
Mogwanja also noted that Africa would have the greatest number of children under the age of 18 by the year 2030 with the child population expected to rise by 130 million by the year 2025.
“In many African countries, rural children are much less likely to be registered and are therefore invisible to governments so they are cut off from social services and legal protection crucial to their survival and futures,” he explained.
He added that inequities affected many children in Africa especially those from poor or marginalised backgrounds in addition to those in places where education levels were low.
He also said that the biggest increase in child populations between the years 2010 and 2025 would take place in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In percentage terms, the top 10 countries with increases in child populations are all in sub-Saharan Africa: Zambia (66 percent), Niger (64), Malawi (63), United Republic of Tanzania (57), Somalia (50), Burkina Faso (48), Uganda (47), Mali (46), Rwanda (45) and Nigeria (41),” explained a statement from UNICEF.
According to UNICEF there will be 108 million more school-age children in Africa over the next 10 years. This will add hugely to the burden on governments to provide education and essential services.