The Future of Humanity Will Be African – Four in 10 of World's People Will Be African by the End of This Century

Human Wrongs Watch

Africa has experienced a marked increase in its population in last few decades. Its current population is five times its size in 1950. And the continent’s rapid population expansion is set to continue, with its inhabitants doubling from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion between 2015 and 2050, and eventually reaching 4.2 billion by 2100, says UNICEF report Generation 2013/Africa.

Photo from UNICEF

Photo from UNICEF

According the report, which has been launched on 12 August 2014, the future of humanity is increasingly African. More than half the projected 2.2 billion rise in the world population in 2015-2050 is expected to take place in Africa, even though the continent’s population growth rate will slow.

On current trends, within 35 years, 1 in every 4 people will be African, rising to 4 in 10 people by the end of the century.

Back in 1950, only 9 among 100 of the world’s number of inhabitants were African. The following are the key finding of UNICEF’s report.

Over 40 per cent of World’s Births Will Be African

With its inhabitants set to soar, Africa will become increasingly crowded, with its population density projected to increase from 8 persons per square kilometre in 1950 to 39 in 2015 and to about 80 by mid-century.

In 2050, around 41 per cent of the world’s births, 40 per cent of all under-fives, 37 per cent of all children under 18 and 35 per cent of all adolescents will be African— higher than previously projected. In 1950, only about 10 per cent of the world’s births, under-fives, under-18s and adolescents were African.

The population of Africa’s under-fives will swell by 51 per cent from 179 million in 2015 to 271 million in 2050 and its overall child population (under-18s) will increase by two thirds from 547 million in 2015 to almost 1 billion by mid-century.

It is projected that 1.1 billion children under 18 will be living in Africa by 2100, accounting for almost half

(47 per cent) of the world population of children at that time.

The highest child dependency ratio in the world

More than any other region, Africa’s children lie at the heart of its demographic and social transition.

Today, almost 47 per cent of Africans are children under 18. In 15 African countries, more than half of the total population are children under 18.

Africa has the highest child dependency ratio — 73 children under age 15 per 100 persons of working age in 2015, close to double the global average. This ratio is projected to decline steadily as fertility rates ebb and the working-age population expands, but will still remain far higher than other regions.

In contrast, Africa’s old-age dependency ratio (defined as elderly person 65 years and older per 100 working-age persons) is expected to increase slowly from a very low level of 6 in 2015 to 9 in 2050 and climb to 22 in 2100.

Almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa between 2015 and 2050 due to high fertility rates and increasing number of women of reproductive age.

Continued High Rates of Fertility and an Increasing Number of Women of Reproductive Age

Continued high rates of fertility and an increasing number of women of reproductive age are the

driving force behind Africa’s surge in births and children, although divergences have appeared between

countries and communities within countries in the region.

Each African woman on average will have 4.7 children in 2010-2015 — far above the global average of

2.5. Niger has the highest total fertility rate of any country, with an average of 7.5 children per woman

in 2015.

In total, 15 African countries will have an average fertility rate of 5 children or more per woman

in 2015. In the coming decades, Africa’s fertility rates are expected to drop — in some cases sharply —

but will stay well above the rest of the world.

Africa’s population surge has swelled its ranks of women of reproductive age (15–49), from 54 million

in 1950 to 280 million in 2015; on current trends, this figure will further increase to 407 million in 2030

and to 607 million in 2050.

In 1950, only 11 million African babies were born. This number has increased to more than 40 million in

2015 and will continue to expand within the next 35 years. By mid-century, 41 per cent of the world’s

births will take place in Africa, and almost 2 billion births will take place on this continent alone over

the next 35 years or so. The annual numb
er of births in Africa is only estimated to decline towards the

end of the century.

Child Survival

Child survival has improved in Africa, but the continent still accounts for half of all child deaths, and this figure is set to rise to around 70 per cent by mid-century.

There has been considerable progress on child survival in Africa since 1990 and particularly since the year 2000. But faster progress in other regions has left Africa with the highest concentration of global under-five and under-18 deaths of any region.

In Africa, one in every 11 children born still dies before their fifth birthday, a rate 14 times greater than in the average in high-income countries.

The continent currently accounts for more than half of the world’s child deaths. This share will continue to rise to around 70 per cent by the middle of the century, given the continent’s current mortality, fertility and demographic levels and trends, and assumptions of, continued rates of progress elsewhere.

Life expectancy for Africa’s children has risen sharply in recent decades but is still shorter than the global average; within 20 years, Africa will have its first generation of children who can expect to reach pensionable age

Life is still shorter in Africa than anywhere else on earth. In the 1950s, life expectancy at birth in Africa was less than 40 years — about 30 years shorter than in the developed regions of the world at that time.

Today, Africans’ average life expectancy at birth is 58 years, a considerable gain but still a full 12 years

shorter than the global average.

By 2035, Africa as a continent will have its first generation of children that can expect to reach the pensionable

age of 65 years, as life expectancy at birth by this year will rise above 65 years for the first time.

Continuous Urbanization

Continuous urbanization will most likely lead to the majority of Africa’s people and children living in cities in less than 25 years

The image of Africa as a rural continent is fast changing amid rapid urban growth. Currently, 40 per cent of Africa’s population lives in cities. The past few decades have seen a frenetic pace of urbanization, considering that in 1950 just 14 per cent, and in 1980 just 27 per cent of the continental population was classified as living in urban areas.

By late 2030s, Africa is set to become a continent with more population living in urban than in rural areas.On current trends, by mid-century almost 60 per cent of Africa’s population will live in cities.

Africa’s urban children are increasingly likely to grow up in the continent’s rapidly expanding megacities with 10 million or more inhabitants.

Lagos with 24 Million; Cairo with 24 Million

Lagos, Africa’s second biggest urban agglomeration, will see its population swell by 1.8 times over the next 15 years from 13 million in 2015 to 24 million in 2030, while the populace of Al-Qahirah (Cairo), currently in first place, will expand from 19 million to 25 million over the same period.

Today three in 10 of Africa’s children are living in fragile and conflict-affected contexts

Conflict and fragility continue to undermine human rights and social and economic progress in a number of African countries. Of the 34 countries classified by the World Bank in 2014 as having fragile and conflict-affected contexts, 20 are African.

Around one fourth of the continent’s population resides in these 20 countries, which also account for almost three in 10 African children under 18, totalling 143 million. Almost 3 in every 10 births in Africa, and one third of all under-five deaths in Africa, occur in countries with fragile and conflict-affected contexts.

40 per cent of Africans Living Below Poverty Line

Four in 10 of Africans and almost half of sub-saharan Africa’s populace live below the international poverty line of us$1.25 per day

About 60 per cent of the African population — and 70 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa — survives on less than US$2 per day. In the two subregions of Eastern Africa and West Africa, about three quarters of the population lives on less than US$2 per day.

Extreme poverty is also rife on the continent; around 40 per cent of Africa’s population, and almost half

(48 per cent) of sub-Saharan Africa live on less US$1.25 per day.

Divergences in fertility rates are marked in sub-saharan Africa, with disparities highest in west and central Africa

between richest and poorest.

Fertility Rates Highest Among the Poorest

Fertility rates are highest among the poorest African communities. In the Democratic Republic of the

Congo, for example, women in the lowest wealth quintile have on average 7.4 children, 3.2 children

more than women in the wealthiest quintile.

Women in the poor
est quintile in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger,

Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania have on average 2-4 children more than women in the

wealthiest quintile. Similar trends are prevalent in other countries.

Special attention is required for Nigeria, which is the country with the largest increase in absolute numbers of both births and child population.

136 Million Births Will Take Place in Nigeria from 2015 to 2030

At the country level, the greatest number of births in Africa takes place in Nigeria; by 2015 one fifth of the continent’s births will take place in that country alone, accounting for 5 per cent of all global births.

From 2015 to 2030, 136 million births will take place in Nigeria — 19 per cent of all African babies and 6 per cent of the global total. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for almost one tenth of all births in the world.

In absolute terms, Nigeria is projected to add from 2031 to 2050 an additional 224 million babies (21 per

cent of the births in Africa and 8 per cent of all births in the world).

Niger, Mali and Other Smaller African Nations with high fertility rates and large relative projected increases in child and total population in the world also require particular attention and investment

At the country level, in 2015 the highest fertility in the world is estimated in Niger, with 7.5 children per woman, followed by Mali with 6.8 children per woman. In 2050, their fertility levels are projected to remain the highest in Africa at 4.8 for Niger and 4.0 for Mali.

Niger is also expected to have the largest percentage increase in the number of births — more than doubling from 1 million in 2015 to 2.5 million babies in 2050.

Niger is projected to have the largest relative increase in its total population — its population in 2050 (69 million) will be more than triple the population in 2015 (19 million). In 2100, 204 million people are projected to live in Niger.

Read the report

To access Generation 2030/Africa Report, interactive database and media resources, see: 

For further information, please contact: James Elder, UNICEF Nairobi, +254-715-581-222, . Thierry Delvigne-Jean, UNICEF Dakar, +221-778-192-300, . Kent Page, UNICEF New York, +1-212-326-7605,

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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