Skip to Content

Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana. Photo credit Joshua Duneebon

Demography is destiny: The future will be African

Our future will be African. By 2100, one in three people on the planet will be African according to all demographic forecasts. Relative to other continents, this growth in Africa is unprecedented in human history.

Published: July 11, 2021, 12:18 pm

    Read more

    Because one in three people will come from sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria’s population will exceed that of China or India.  Within less than three decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo will have 200 million inhabitants and Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast will have 10 million people.

    In the Sahel the overall population of at least four countries will triple, according to Gilles Pison, professor at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (MNHN – Sorbonne Universités) and associate researcher at INED.

    The African population, estimated at 140 million in 1900, reached one billion inhabitants in 2010. It will number 2,5 billion in 2050 and more than 4 billion in 2100, according to United Nations projections. One in 6 people today lives in Africa. In 2050, it will be 1 in 4, and more than 1 in 3 by 2100, according to these same projections.

    This rapid increase is because of the excess of births over deaths, with four times more births than deaths. Although the mortality on the continent may be the highest in the world, and fertility has also declined, African women were still giving birth to an average of 4,5 children each in 2017, compared to more than 6,5 forty years ago.

    By comparison, only 2,1 children were born per woman in Asia in 2017, 2,0 in Latin America, 1,9 in North America. and 1,6 in Europe. So even if fertility continues to decline, as the average United Nations scenario assumes, this will not immediately result in a significant decrease in the growth rate.

    Assuming that African fertility suddenly falls to 1,6 children per woman as in Europe or China – a highly improbable scenario – the population would however continue to increase for a few more decades to reach nearly 1,6 billion in 2050. Africa’s population includes many young adults of childbearing age, and therefore the result would still be a high number of births.

    The evolution of fertility: several recent surprises

    Population projections published by the United Nations in 1981 predicted 10,5 billion human souls on the planet in 2100 in their average scenario. The latest projections published in June 2017 predict 11,2.

    The total is therefore a little higher but the real change is in the distribution by continent: The revision is also downward for Asian and Latin America. Conversely, Africa, projected to have 2,2 billion inhabitants in 2100 according to the 1981 vision, now has double that with 4,4 billion.

    Another surprise, more recent, is from intertropical Africa: A fertility decline was expected later than in Asia and Latin America, because of its delay in socio-economic development. This is indeed what happened in North Africa and Southern Africa, but not in intertropical Africa where the decline in fertility is very slow – hence an increase in projections for Africa.

    Economic development and the decline in fertility often go hand in hand, the second being often seen as a consequence of the first. The education of women is a key factor in this process: those who have been to school give birth to fewer children than those who have not. Asian and Latin American countries have invested heavily in education decades ago. In intertropical Africa this has not happened.

    The question of the “demographic dividend”

    To convince African governments to make birth control one of their priorities, international organizations have been promoting a “demographic dividend”.

    In fact, when fertility drops rapidly in a country, the share of young people drops sharply without the share of older people increasing significantly at the start. As a result, the share of the working-age population increases significantly, providing an opportunity for the country to develop economically . This favorable situation lasts only a short while. A few decades later, the very large number of people of working age have aged and considerably increased the weight of the elderly population.

    It is estimated that a number of Asian countries, including China, have benefited from this dividend and may have accounted for up to 10-30 percent of their economic growth. On the other hand, the Latin American countries would not have benefited for the most part, for lack of jobs created in sufficient quantity to employ the excess of people of working age.

    In the case of Africa, the conditions for a demographic dividend do not exist: Fertility is falling too slowly and assuming it begins to decline rapidly, the outlook for job growth is too modest and is unlikely to absorb the additional labor. In the unlikely event that there is a demographic dividend, it is only a distant prospect.

    Therefore, Africa will not escape a doubling of its population by 2050 due to demographic inertia that no one can prevent. Not only the continent, but the world will suffer the consequences.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Africa

    French fuel debacle spills over to Senegal

    DakarThe recent events at the French embassy in Burkina Faso were yet another demonstration against France on the African continent after France was ousted from Mali. All it took was a rumour to attract the sympathy of the population and demonstrators to head to the French Embassy.

    New South African drone to compete with Turkey’s Bayraktar

    PretoriaThe South African defense company Milkor unveiled its Milkor 380 reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is expected to become a competitor to Turkey's Bayraktar and Anka drones.

    Bucking the trend: Uganda bans work by LGBT group

    KampalaThe Ugandan government has banned the activities of a local non-governmental organization that campaigns for the rights of sexual minorities. According to a senior official, the organization worked illegally in the African country.

    South Africa: 82 suspects arrested after a mass rape

    KrugersdorpDozens of black men ambushed a film crew at an abandoned mine near Johannesburg on Friday. They raped eight models between the ages of 19 and 35. As they fled, the police shot dead two suspects and 82 other people were arrested.

    BRICS expansion on the cards

    More and more emerging countries are considering joining the BRICS group, which is seen as the major emerging countries' counterweight to the US-led West and the G7. Especially in times like these, this is also a clear signal to Washington.

    Poland opens border after South Africa complains about their treatment of blacks

    PretoriaThere is a very diverse crowd on the German-Polish border currently trying to take advantage of the war situation. Do they really all come from Ukraine?

    Cameroon celebrates herbal medicine miracle against Covid-19

    JaundeThe western African country of Cameroon is one of the nations with the fewest victims in the pandemic: Only 100 000 infected and 1 600 deaths were counted among its 27 million inhabitants. That means that the incidence rate is 50 times lower than in European countries.

    New Covid Omicron ‘variant’ first detected in fully vaccinated individuals

    PretoriaThe EU as well as the US, UK and Canada will ban travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a new variant called Omicron to be "of concern". But South African Health Minister Dr Joseph Phaahla said these “draconian” decisions did not make any scientific sense.

    South Africa plunged into darkness by rampant theft at power utility

    JohannesburgTwo black ESKOM employees and their accomplices contracted by the South African power utility, were arrested last week and charged with fraud, theft and corruption in connection with hundreds of millions worth of goods that were stolen. The goods and services paid for by the power utility were not delivered nor rendered at the country's Tutuka Power Station.

    Gambia refuses to take back deported migrants

    BanjulThe government of the West African mini-state Gambia is not even considering taking back its own citizens in the course of repatriations. Their argument is that this would lead to “social unrest”.

    Go to archive