It has already been established that the Africa region has the fastest growing population. This boom will cause Africa to surpass both China's and India's population in 2025, less than 15 years away. The combined populations of Asia, including China and India, will still exceed Africa's, however.
If we look out to the year 2100, one in three people will be of African descent globally even with the likelihood that fertility rates will continue to decrease. Lower rates of mortality and increasing life span also contribute to the growing population on the continent.
Within the continent, the populations of the East, West, and Central regions will grow much faster than the North and Southern regions. In 2050, the populations of East and West Africa are expected to exceed 650 million each.
Large population booms have both advantages and disadvantages as noted by Dr. Hughes. However, from the business perspective, we should see the opportunity in large, growing consumer markets. Unfortunately, the dialogue on population in Africa still remains on the negatives of poverty and disease instead of innovative solutions that will solve these problems, uplifting people and creating strong local economies as I discussed in the article, "The Business Proposition of Africa's Population Boom: Problem or Potential?"
In fact, Dr. Hughes notes that the "demographic dividend" is starting to pay off for Africa. The demographic dividend is the portion of people in the labor force a country. Historically, Africa has been disadvantaged because most of its people were under the age of 15 years. For example, the number of people in the workforce in Africa currently is around 55% compared to about 70% in China, creating a drag on countries.
This is changing as these young populations are maturing. By the middle of the century between 62%-65% of Africa's population will be in the workforce while the percentage of China's population will fall well below that as its population ages, according to Dr. Hughes.
This potential workforce will give Africa a distinct advantage globally, but also require governments and private sector to proactively address the need for jobs sufficiently to provide sustainable livelihoods. Like many countries globally, this issue is already being felt by African nations requiring new innovative solutions to this growing need. These demographic dynamics also help us to understand other trends for Africa.