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U.N. SAYS THIS IS CHALLENGING

Africa's population to top the world - new UN data

The trend is assured because it is based on the current population structures

In Summary

• The explosion will be enabled by some 10 countries including Kenya, whose population will balloon to 95 million in 2050 and about 150 million in 2100.

• Currently, Kenya is the world's 27th most populous country but is expected to jump to 20th position in 2050.

Masses gather for a public rally in Mombasa in 2017. Kenya has the eighth fastest growing population in Sub Saharan Africa.
Masses gather for a public rally in Mombasa in 2017. Kenya has the eighth fastest growing population in Sub Saharan Africa.
Image: FILE

Sub Saharan Africa will triple its population to become the world's most populous region by 2100, new data from the United Nations suggest.

The growth will be driven by some 10 countries including Kenya, whose population will balloon to 95 million in 2050 and about 150 million in 2100.

The UN called the population explosion "challenging" because it will happen in some of the poorest countries in the world.

In the region, the fastest population growth will happen in Nigeria, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Angola, Uganda, Niger, Kenya, Mozambique, and Madagascar in that order.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to become the most populous of the eight geographic regions (SDG regions) around 2062," says the revised    UN’s World Population Prospects 2019, released late last month. 

The eight SDG regions are Sub Saharan Africa, Northern Africa and Western Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania, Europe and Northern America, and Australia and New Zealand.

"Continued rapid population growth presents challenges for sustainable development," the UN said in its report.

"Most of the Least Developed Countries that are expected to double in population size are the world’s poorest countries."

This growth would occur even if global fertility were to fall immediately to around two births per woman over a lifetime"
UN World Population Prospects 2019

Currently, the world’s two most populous regions are Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, with 2.3 billion people (representing 30 per cent of the global population) and Central and Southern Asia, with 2.0  billion (26 per cent of the global population).

These two will reach their peak population size in the coming decades, and then Africa will zoom past.

The UN report says the projected global population trends are driven largely by trends in fertility – the average number of live births per woman over a lifetime.

All regions have experienced fertility decline but sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest fertility of 4.6 children per woman in 2019.

Kenya has a fertility rate of 3.79 children per woman.

The world’s population reached 7.7 billion in mid-2019, and is expected to reach 10.9 billion in 2100, according to the UN projections.

In 2100, the entire of Africa's population (Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa) will be about 4.3 billion, second only to the combined population of Asia.

The report says there is no doubt about all this because two-thirds of the projected growth through 2050 will be driven by current age structures.

"That is, this growth would occur even if global fertility were to fall immediately to around two births per woman over a lifetime," the report says.

This is because the generation of young people now entering their reproductive years is larger than their parents’ generation.

This means that policies to decline fertility would have no impact on the population growth between 2020 and 2050.

NIGERIA OVERTAKES USA

India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027.

Nigeria will also surpass the US as the third-largest country in the world in 2047, according to the analysis.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of the  UN data, the disparate population growth rates among the world’s largest countries will re-order their ranking by population size.

Currently, China is the most populous nation on earth with 1.43 billion people, followed by India with 1.37 billion, USA with 329 million, and Indonesia 271.

"Current projections indicate that India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027," the report says.

Nigeria will also surpass the US as the third-largest country in the world in 2047, according to the analysis.

At the end of the century, India will have nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China with just under 1.1 billion, Nigeria with 733 million, the United States with 434 million, and Pakistan with 403 million.

Others will be DR Congo 362, Indonesia 321, Ethiopia 294, Tanzania 286 and Egypt 225.

Currently, Kenya is the world's 27th most populous country but is expected to jump to 20th position in 2050.

The 2019 UN data is based on information from 1,690 population and housing censuses for 235 countries or areas, registration of births and deaths from 163 countries or areas, and 2,700 surveys, including demographic and health surveys, conducted in 235 countries or areas.