The UN Population Division currently projects the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 4 billion by the end of this century, unless we see a sharp decline in the region’s fertility rates. Although the region has embarked on its demographic transition, this process is occurring at a slower rate than in the rest of the developing world and seems to be stalling in several countries. The economic benefits that would follow from an acceleration of the fertility decline are now widely recognized but the SSA leadership is only slowly changing its attitude towards population issues. This paper’s discussion of SSA population growth focuses on fertility, and the identification of factors that may lead to fertility decline, with particular attention to the direct influence of public institutions. These are the public institutions dealing with family planning programs or those designed to prepare and implement population policies and/or monitor the demographic dividend. Reviewing the experience of these institutions in the SSA context allows us to suggest ways to strengthen them with the view of accelerating the fertility transition in the region, opening a demographic window of opportunity, and capturing a first demographic dividend.
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