Africa’s population is the fastest-growing globally and is estimated to increase by about 50% over the next 18 years. If this were true, the population would increase from 1.2 billion people to over 1.8 billion by 2035. At this point, the continent would account for almost half of the populace in a record span of two decades.
Understanding The Drivers
Before diving into the solutions, it’s imperative to understand the driving forces behind these numbers. An average African woman has about 4.7 children. The number ranges widely depending on the specific part of Africa, with Central and Western Africa having the highest numbers. The global average for women is 2.5 children.
One of the reasons why African women have many children is that they start their motherhood journey four years earlier than the global average of 26. The rate of adolescent births is also very high, standing at thrice the global average.
Another driver is family planning. About a quarter of African women lack access to good family planning services xxx. Some do not have enough social and community backing. Supporting women to attain their fertility goals is essential and can help curb rapid, unsustainable population growth.
The Elephant in The Room – Quality of Life
The problem with population increase does not lie in the numbers – it’s all in the quality of life of every individual on the continent. Rapid population growth impacts welfare and development, which could have severe consequences for humanity’s wellbeing. So, the question of how Africa will cope with the expected demographic changes can only be answered by how well the leaders prepare the continent for these aspects:
The Level of Living
Will African nations manage to improve the level of living among their citizens? The anticipated population growth might make it difficult to provide essential services. They include housing, sanitation, security, and transport.
What effects are high population growth rates for the 99% in the economic bracket? The leaders should ensure a constant food supply to meet the demands of the rising population and boost the nutritional levels. They should ensure everyone has a balanced diet. Doing so will help bridge the economic gap.
Increased Labor Forces
When there is a high labor supply, the unemployment rate might increase. Therefore, the continent must curb unemployment rates by increasing industrialization. They could also look for innovative ways of ensuring plentiful employment opportunities.
Better Education and Health
African nations must analyze whether their current facilities will be enough to consider the expected population growth. They should improve their health and education systems to ensure everybody has access to primary education and proper healthcare.
Guarantee to Freedom of Choice
Will parents have the freedom to choose their desired family size with the beaming numbers? Is there a relationship between poverty and freedom of choice? These two questions imply that African leaders and policymakers must frame the population issue on the quality of human life and the availability of resources. Population trends should increase one’s options and choices. Therefore, implementing a population policy is best viewed as a means and not an end.