Training of population specialists for Africa’s needs: Past, current and future

  • James P.M. Ntozi Department of Population Studies, Makerere University, Uganda.


Africa has been training population specialists since the early 1960s, following some countries’ acquiring political independence. The training has consisted of undergraduate degrees, post-graduate diplomas, masters, doctorates and postdoctorates at regional and national institutions as well as centres found outside the continent. Achievements of the training programme over several decades have included many population specialists trained and helping in implementing the population related projects in the region and building the capacity of several African population training centres. Challenges have consisted of inadequate financial support from development partners and regional and national governments, lack of scholarships for students, scarce research grants for staff and students, development partners’ related issues, problems related to national and regional governments, lack of interest in supporting training of technical demographers, limitation of infrastructure for training, shortage of qualified trainers and unemployment of graduates in population studies. It is recommended that national governments and regional agencies provide core financing of African population training centres and only mobilize donor funding as supplementary. More focus should be directed to advanced research training to ensure that qualified population specialists lost to the brain drain and other factors are continuously replaced. African training institutions need to be more innovative and create new opportunities of sustainability when the support being received is stopped.