Over the last five years, Africa has seen the highest rate of population growth at about 2.5% annually and by 2050 a quarter of the world’s population will be on the continent.
Put another way, of the 2.4 billion new people on the planet by 2050, 1.3 billion of them will come from the continent, based on data from the UN World Population Prospects (pdf).
The increase in population, which will also be accompanied by lower mortality rates, presents the continent with an enormous opportunity, similar to the one experienced by East Asia in the second half of the twentieth century. The so-called demographic dividend is now upon Africa as well, economists say. By 2050 ten of the youngest countries in the world will be found on the continent.
The new working-age population such an explosion will generate could to lead to a 11% to 15% GDP growth on the continent, World Bank analysts argue. This is the same as doubling the current rate of growthin the region.
The poverty reduction that will accompany this growth will be transformative. The poverty rate, taken to be those living under $1.25 a day, which in 2007 made up about 52% of Africans, could fall by 17% by 2030, constituting up to 60 million less poor people.