Africa’s population to double to 2.4 billion by 2050



Africa’s population to double to 2.4 billion by 2050

Africa’s population will more than double to 2.4 billion within 40 years, according to a major study, thanks in large part to better health care.

Children pose for a camera in the Erasmia township, Johannesburg, South Africa

Children pose for a camera in the Erasmia township, Johannesburg, South Africa Photo: VLADIMIR RHYS/GETTY IMAGES
Mike Pflanz

By , Nairobi

3:58PM BST 12 Sep 2013

Comments35 Comments

Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is rising faster than the rest of the world because modern medicine and health care on the continent means more babies are surviving birth complications, and fewer adults are dying from preventable diseases.

But the number of children being born is not dropping, or is doing so very slowly.

“This means that population growth rates would naturally rise if birth rates stay as they are,” said Carl Haub, the co-author of the report, from the Population Reference Bureau in the US.

African mothers have an average of 5.2 children, rising to 7.6 in Niger, the country with the world’s highest fertility rate that is close to five times the European average of 1.6 children born to each woman.

The baby boom means that its current population of 1.1 billion will increase to at least 2.4 billion by the middle of the century, according to the study from the respected organisation.

Children pose for a camera in the Erasmia township, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Nearly all of that growth will be in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the region’s poorest,” said Wendy Baldwin, the organisation’s president.

“Rapid population growth makes it difficult for economies to create enough jobs to lift large numbers of people out of poverty.”

Seven of the 10 countries with the highest fertility rates also appear among the bottom 10 listed on the United Nations’ Human Development Index.

By 2050, many African countries will have more than twice the number of people compared to today. Kenya’s population will rise from 44 million to 97 million and Nigeria’s from 174 million to 440 million.

Some will nearly triple. Somalia will have 27 million people in 2050, up from an estimated 10 million today, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 71 million population is predicted to rise to 182 million.

“This is clearly going to increase pressure on Africa’s governments to deliver education, health care, security and, most importantly jobs,” said Julia Schünemann, director of the Africa Futures Project at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.

“But it should be seen as an opportunity, too. African countries also have the world’s fastest economic growth rates. The question is, can those economies grow fast enough to offset the demands of population growth.

“In general, I don’t think we should be too pessimistic.”

PRB World Population

International aid agencies are increasingly focusing efforts in Africa on family planning by advising governments how to widen access to contraceptives and helping women choose when to have children.

But this is unpopular in some countries, especially where religious doctrine that frowns on contraception holds sway with government leaders.

Projections included in the Population Reference Bureau’s study assume that “family planning will become widespread”, said Mr Haub.

“If not, Africa’s population will grow more rapidly, further constraining efforts to address poverty, create jobs, and protect the environment,” he said.

Africa’s rising middle class would contribute to a slowing of birth rates, as wealthier families tend to choose to have fewer children, the study found.

The report gives 20 different indicators for more than 200 countries.

It found that British mothers give birth to an average of two children, higher than the EU average of 1.6. Bosnia-Herzegovina has the world’s lowest birth rate of 1.2 children.

The world’s population is forecast to increase from roughly 7.1 billion today to more than 9.7 billion in 2050, the report calculated.

India, currently the second most populous country in the world, will overtake China to become the most populous by 2030, it is estimated. By 2050, India’s population will be 1.6 billion and China’s 1.3 billion.


Showing 1-24 of 37 comments

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  • Me blokes,

    Wud I’d a like ta say, I kant say, bekuss it wudna be politicully correct.

  • wasexpat

    Today 03:09 AM

    What a sad article.

  • Well surely the UK will benefit if many are allowed to come here, after all mass immigration and a multi-cultural society are good things, are they not?

  • The sub Saharan countries named are either Muslim or contain large Muslim contingents.  Bad news.

  • How many of them will fit on Lampedusa?

  • Thanks Bill Gates – crap, overpriced software, and another billion Africans.

  • We really should pour more aid into Africa so they can treble their population by 2050, come on everybody, give em your fxxking money!!!!! I’m organizing a coach trip for 50 people to go and dig wells for them and sow seeds because they don’t know how to dig holes other than shallow ones to put their murdered non Muslim enemies in!!

  • And 1 billion of them will be starving, wow great prospects.

  • Wow, I guess I will crack open a bottle of water and celebrate, twice as many mouths to feed, guess we better get busy.

  • We should never have given them money in the first place.  I hate this practice of sending aid to countries.  It’s stupid and short sighted.  All it does is enable dysfunctional situations to thrive, when they should be nipped in the bud by “Darwinian” (for lack of a better concept) factors.  It should be “survival of the fittest” but because of foreign aid, it’s survival of the weakest and then they procreate like rabbits and have no foundations to support all these parasites.

    They would be a strong country if it weren’t for the intrusion of foreign governments’ aid money.

    Another thing:  what countries send us aid when we have disasters?  Anybody?

  • We in the UK are bombarded daily with letters & TV-adverts from numerous charities asking for donations to help the starving/sick/thirsty in Africa.

    It now becomes clear why the problem continues…

    An advert from one charity…

    “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for  a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for life.”


    “Teach a man to fish, but do not teach him how to use contraceptives or convince him to use them,  and you will have shown him how to have 10 children. His kids will have 10 kids, and they will eat all the fish, and you now have 100 hungry men and no fish.”

    Some parts of the world are marginal for supporting large numbers of humans. The best solution is to teach him to farm fish, and then he might be lucky and grow enough fish to feed 2 kids. A sustainable human population living from a long term sustainable food source.

  • Indeed, I do wonder from the letters from my water compnay just how long it will be before some people learn how to dig a f*cking well without my having to help pay for it.

  • CrushedGrape

    Yesterday 01:24 PM

    Hooray, I’m thrilled the African Continent is going to take over from us lazy selfish ‘Westerners.’  They will become the leading nations again while we disappear into oblivion, and good riddance to us, I say….

  • We’ve been told for years that increased population = increased GDP and economic growth, hence the insane support for immigration in some circles.

    The addition of the simple words “per capita” to GDP shows up the fallacy of this argument.

    India’s population growth has been massive – more than doubled since 1947, yet there are more poor in India than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.  The Indian government has just launched a programme to provide emergency food aid to two-thirds of the population.  They still breed like rabbits though, so not much hope for improvement there.

    Africa will go the same way.  More than half the population of Nigeria is under 20 years old and other countries have similar figures.

    Foreign aid to Africa and Asia is like standing in the bilge of the Titanic stuffing £20 notes in the hole.  Utterly pointless.

    These people are all grown-ups and they must be allowed to run their countries the way they want.  Our role should be to ensure that charity begins at home and that our border controls are sufficiently robust that they all stay where they were born – or at least, don’t come here.

  • The Chinese found a way to counteract their huge population,  Despite the huge growth they still struggle today and for the foreseeable future.

    Will Africans be prepared to go down  the same path? Will they abide by the state’s dictate or improve their productivity by millions of percent or will we allow them the cheap electricity and clean power that they nee? Will they adopt the same work ethics?
    Forget the aid, which will do nothing to secure prosperity. Africa needs to understand that with  the doubling the population there comes a price. Will they pay it?

  • John Mark

    Yesterday 12:40 PM

    So, the prediction is that the world’s population will increase by 37% in the next 37 years.

    It makes you into a Malthusian economist, where population rise is exponential but food increase is linear.

    At some point in time, the exponential leaves the linear far behind, and people starve.

    Farmers and optimists still say that we can produce more food than you think with the spread of westernised industrial farming throughout Africa.

    Yes, OK! But if they won’t use contraception enough, and the elderly live longer and longer, and the people eat more and more meat than in the past, you farmers are going to give up on your optimism one day.

    It makes you Malthusian in regard to charitable giving. The population growth is exponential but the charitable giving is, at best, linear.

    If international currencies do collapse in value well before 2050, then aid will cease or, at least, the currencies will be so debased in value that they will buy very little for this exponentially increasing world population.

    I have this fear that something catastrophic will happen, and that this will reduce global population to a level at which those, who are still alive, will be free of debt.

    If so, perhaps, the population will be no more than 2 billion.

    I am so, so pessimistic for the human race. It’s oppressive sometimes!

  • Comment removed.
  • I hope you reflect upon your remark and feel ashamed.

  • manwhosees

    Yesterday 04:24 PM

    See what you gone done did ? Don’t you feel ashamed ?

  • “See what you gone done did ? Don’t you feel ashamed ?”

    I haven’t “gone done did” anything other than make my thoughts known, in words using reasonable grammar, so no I don’t feel ashamed.

  • Nature kept things in balance for aeons, then along come the scientists.  Each generation of them solving the problems created by the solutions of their forebears.

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