News / Africa

UN Report Predicts African Baby Boom

FILE - A United Nations report predicts a baby boom in Africa. Here, a woman carries her child in Nigeria's Kaduna State.
FILE - A United Nations report predicts a baby boom in Africa. Here, a woman carries her child in Nigeria's Kaduna State.
Anita Powell

The African continent is primed for a massive baby boom within the next four decades, a shift that the United Nations’ children’s agency says represents both a challenge and a huge opportunity.

By the year 2050, UNICEF predicts in a report released this week, Africa will be home to about 41 percent of the world’s births. By that time, one in four people on this planet will be African.

The boom is caused by several factors.  Africa is already home to one of the world’s youngest populations – and within the next few decades, those youngsters will reach reproductive age. The continent also has, for many reasons, high fertility rates and has seen a reduction in child mortality, meaning that more babies and children survive than ever before.

Africa’s booming population will shift global dynamics, said Thi Minh Ngo, a UNICEF economic and social policy specialist based in Dakar, Senegal.

"We can see that Africa is the one continent that keeps growing very fast in terms of population size, while the other parts of the world, the other regions like Asia and Europe, the sizes are going to stabilize," Ngo said. "… This rapid rise of population on the African continent is going to drive the wave of population across the globe in the next 30 to 50 years."

That growth won’t be universal, Ngo said. Some African nations, such as Botswana and South Africa, have relatively low fertility rates that are comparable to developed nations.

Most growth likely in East, West Africa

UNICEF predicts most of the boom will happen in East and West Africa, which have high fertility rates. 

Nigeria, whose 177 million people already make this the continent’s most populous nation, is projected to continue its rapid growth. It may account for one in 10 births by 2050 – and may even reach nearly half a billion people.

One bundle of joy, many parents say, is work enough.  But in the next 35 years, Africa’s women will give birth to nearly 2 billion of them – presenting a massive public policy challenge.

This is a double-edged sword for governments, Ngo said.

If they can begin to prepare immediately, she said, they can harness the power of that youthful, exuberant, productive population.

Youth investment needed

That means governments need to start looking urgently at health and education sectors, Ngo said.

“We need to invest much more” on youth, she said. “Otherwise, we are going to just be running behind the train of providing adequate services for this population.”

The population boom also presents “an amazing opportunity,” Ngo said. “You have this youth, which is a driving force for the continent, and that is unique to Africa because the other regions of the globe are actually witnessing aging of the population.” 

The United States’ post-World War II baby boom, which produced some 76 million babies, transformed the nation’s economy and society. 

Likewise, this continent’s baby boom is sure to have wide-ranging consequences for African societies, for world power dynamics and the world’s economy.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs