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AfricaMoney | September 22, 2017

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Africa to be home to quarter of world’s population by 2050; offers vast growth potential

Africa to be home to quarter of world’s population by 2050; offers vast growth potential

Sub-Saharan Africa’s population boom is one of the main reasons for the optimism around the continent’s economic growth potential; but challenges abound as forty-eight countries classified by the UN as “least developed countries” are expected to double in population by 2050.

As of mid-2015, the world’s population stands at 7.3 billion, according to a new estimate by the United Nations. Over half of the world lives in Asia and a little under a fifth live in Africa.

But in 35 years, that picture will look radically different. Between now and 2050, over half of the global population growth will take place in Africa, with the continent adding 1.3 billion people, compared to Asia’s 0.9 billion. Thus, by 2050, Africa’s share of the global population will reach 25%, as Asia’s share falls to 54%.

This is where the majority of growth will come from in a similar period 30 years from now.

Within the larger continent, Nigeria is expected to top the list. The West African nation is expected to surpass the United States by 2050 with its population more than doubling from today to reach almost 400 million.

As a result, Nigeria could enjoy the so-called “demographic dividend,” provided, however, there are enough jobs to absorb the working-age population and sufficient investment in young people’s development, as the UN wisely cautions.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s population boom is one of the main reasons for the optimism around the continent’s economic growth potential. But that doesn’t come without major challenges. Forty-eight countries classified by the UN as “least developed countries” are expected to double in population size by 2050; 33 countries, most of them falling within this category, will triple in size by 2100.

The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries will make it harder for those governments to eradicate poverty and inequality, combat hunger and malnutrition, expand education enrolment and health systems, as well as implement other elements of a sustainable development agenda to ensure that no one is left behind.

The combination of vast growth potential and multiple humanitarian challenges posed by the African population boom pose opportunities and threats in equal measure for companies that are seeking new horizons. However, win or lose, the continent cannot be ignored for long by any company seeking to be a global corporation of reckoning.

Source: Quartz Africa

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