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.
x
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.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs