Saturday, March 7, 2009

Africa’s population to double by 2050

Mugira Fredrick, AfricaNews reporter in Kampala, Uganda

Africa's population of 967 million could grow to 1.9 billion by 2050; a 2008 Africa Population Data has projected. The new projections are contained in the 2008 Africa Population Data Sheet, produced by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC).

The APHRC stated: “even as African women use family planning more and bear fewer children, the continent’s youthful population will fuel the continent’s growth for many decades to come.”

However, a news statement from APHRC revealed that contraceptive use has increased fastest in Northern and Southern Africa, and as a result, the number of children the average woman has during her lifetime dropped from nearly six children in the early 1980s to around three in 2005. This has slowed population growth in those regions.

In most Eastern, Western, and Middle African countries, however, use of family planning remains low, and fertility rates have dropped slightly, with women averaging between five and six children.

APHRC said that many African countries in these regions face challenges in reducing poverty and educating children. As many as 90 percent of the population in Tanzania, Nigeria, and several other countries exist on less than US$ 2 per day. Southern and Northern African countries tend to fare better than in other regions, but all face high poverty rates.

The research center revealed that educational attainment, considered an important element in reducing poverty, has increased in many countries, especially at the primary level. It however laments that fewer than 75 percent of primary school-age children were enrolled in primary school in Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and several other countries.

APHRC further lamented that African countries have made less progress getting children to advance to secondary school. For all of sub-Saharan Africa, the average net enrollment for secondary school is 28 percent.