Baby in Cape Town, South Africa. By 2050, nearly half of the world's babies will be African. (Photo/ Flickr/ Jonathan Morgan)

Africa Population Growth Trends To 2050; Two Billion Babies Coming Soon

EVERYBODY knows that Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, but projections to 2050 astonish even regular Africa watchers: the country’s population is set to surge to 440 million, making it the world’s third most populous country, just behind India and China.

Today, Nigeria accounts for one fifth of Africa’s births, and 5% of global births. In the next 35 years – a mere generation – the West African country will account for almost 10% of all births in the world. On current trends, by 2100 nearly 1 billion people will live in Nigeria.

But Nigeria is far from alone in the population boom. On current trends, almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa in the next 35 years. This means the continent will be home to 41% of all the world’s births.

In 1950, African women of reproductive age (15-49) numbered 54 million; by next year they will be 280 million, and 407 million in 2030.

In fact, in the next three decades, half of the world’s total population growth will be concentrated in nine countries, and five of those will be African: Nigeria, DRC, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. The others are India, Pakistan, Indonesia and the United States.

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By mid-century, Uganda, currently with a population of 35 million, would have overtaken neighbouring Kenya, which is currently at 45 million. At a projected 104 million, Uganda will (incredibly) be inching close to Egypt, which by then would only have increased its numbers to 121 million, from the current 80 million.

Meanwhile, South Africa would have slipped to tenth place, from the current position five. It is because South Africa’s demographic transition into smaller, and relatively more prosperous families, began earlier than in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. It means that there is less room for growth.

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