News / Africa

Africa to Record Largest Population Growth Over Next 40 Years

A woman poses for a photograph with her children in front of house in the slum of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, January 22, 2013
A woman poses for a photograph with her children in front of house in the slum of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, January 22, 2013
Jennifer Lazuta
A new report predicts that sub-Saharan Africa will record the world's largest population growth between now and 2050.  According to the Population Reference Bureau, the world's poorest region will more than double in population, from 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion. 
By the year 2050, the report states Africa's population is likely to grow by a staggering 1.3 billion people -- the largest growth of any region in the world, including Asia, which currently has about 60 percent of people on the planet.

Sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility rates are among the highest in the world, will account for the majority of the increase.  In sub-Saharan Africa, the population is expected to grow from 926 million people to nearly 2.2 billion people.

Africa's population explosion has the potential to zoom past current estimates, said Carl Haub, a senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based non-profit group. 
“Sub-Saharan Africa has, without a doubt, the greatest population growth potential of any region," said Haub.  "The projection today is that it will increase by about two and a half times.  But the important thing to remember is that even that projection assumes that the birth ate in sub-Saharan Africa will decrease.  And in many of those countries today, it [has] not.”
People crowd a street in a market in Lagos, which is expected to overtake Cairo soon as Africa's largest city.People crowd a street in a market in Lagos, which is expected to overtake Cairo soon as Africa's largest city.
People crowd a street in a market in Lagos, which is expected to overtake Cairo soon as Africa's largest city.
People crowd a street in a market in Lagos, which is expected to overtake Cairo soon as Africa's largest city.
The Population Reference Bureau report shows that women in sub-Saharan Africa currently average 5.2 children during their lifetime, compared to averages of 1.6 in Europe and 1.9 in North America.
In some African countries, such as Niger, the birth rate is as high as 7.6 children per woman.  And even the assumption that this rate will decline steadily over the coming decades, the population of Niger is still expected to nearly quadruple by 2050, according to Haub.
In the past, population growth in many African countries was slowed by high rates of HIV/AIDS and infant mortality.  But recent improvements in access to health care across the continent mean that people are living longer.

While this is a good thing, African countries must now actively work to reduce their fertility rates in order to keep future population growth in check, said Haub.
“One of the main things is to include family planning services with maternal health.  And inform couples about the different methods and what they can do to either reduce the number of children or to space births out," he said.  "It’s much healthier for a woman to have at least two years between the births. And that’s had some success in a few countries.  I think it’s fair to say that in many of the other countries, the willingness to do that is really not there.”
Haub added that if African populations do grow at projected rates - or even faster - it could lead to many problems, including higher rates of poverty and unemployment, and environmental degradation.  That trend might also affect foreign aid from donors, many of whose budgets are already strained by growing numbers of people who need assistance.

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Comment Sorting
by: Feris Hrof
October 09, 2013 7:50 AM
I read somewhere that "The average woman in Somalia gives birth to 6 children". Africa is not and never was place for such birthrate where nature and way of life dictated demographics. People there were perfectly adapted to their ancient, and I am convinced happier way off life.

European colonization distracted social structure by implanting alien urban environment not suitable for archaic tribal society. From self-dependent culture they became twisted copy of foreign never fully adopted way of life.

In these countries there is never enough money for food, medicines and other necessities, but always enough for all kind of munitions. If they have money to by weapons and ammo, they could at least by some condoms too. If we are responsible for our children let them be responsible for their or... Also advertising starving children and at same time tolerating massive loosed armed gangs is pure hypocrisy.

I can hardly find sympathy for those people, because abundance of their, from outside supported children, will one they become same irresponsible "fathers", "mothers" and gang fighters.

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