Average African woman has more than 5 children, African population growth accelerating over rest of 21st century, problem ‘non-existent’

Demography is statistics in its plainest form, and the below picture says it all. It is not the world population that is growing, it is the African and Asian populations that are growing – and dwarfing all the other continents.

Population growth Africa and Asia

African population growth is forecast to speed up over the decades to come. With a fertility number of 7.19 children per woman Niger has the world’s highest birth rate. In Asia the regional differences are much larger. Afghanistan ranks second in the world with the average woman giving birth to 6.62 children. Full resolution graph here.

The graph comes from the latest revision of the UN’s World Population Prospects. It was presented earlier this month, but some of the guests at last week’s population conference at University College London must somehow not yet have had the time to give it a read.

Nigerian population case

We have, so we can tell you for instance the average Nigerian woman gives birth to 5.61 children and that the Nigerian population is forecast to grow by almost a 1000 percent between 1950 and 2050. Today 158 million people live in Nigeria. That number will rise close to 400 million within 4 decades and surpass the 700 million mark by several tens of millions before the end of this century.

Also Nigerian is Dr Babatunde Osotimehin (1949), the newly appointed head of the United Nations Population Fund, present at the UCL conference and (among others) interviewed by Mike Williams, host of BBC’s excellent-as-ever One Planet.

Want to know what progress in the international demography debate sounds like? Listen to yesterday’s podcast [we would advice the entire show, but if pressed for time, please fast forward to Osotimehin, from 12:49 onwards]: “We should not be talking about population control, because we stopped talking about it in 1994.”

But let’s face it. That is a level of rational thinking that is very common among active contributors to population discussions. We’ll just turn off the radio, refrain from expressing further opinions and stick to the facts, figures and forecasts from now on. As promised.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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