Saturday, August 23, 2014

AFRICA: Two billion babies in 2050

UNICEF says investing in children will be paramount for Africa to realize the rights of its burgeoning child population and reap a potential demographic dividend.
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Almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa between 2015 and 2050 due to high fertility rates and increasing number of women of reproductive age, a demographic study on children in Africa states.

The study, published by the UN Children Fund, UNICEF, on August 11, addresses issues of child population, mortality, fertility and reproductive health, birth registration, life expectancy, urbanization, fragility, education, drinking water and sanitation.

Generation 2030 | Africa: Child demographics in Africa”  report states that four in ten of the world’s people will be African by the end of this century.

It estimates that a billion children will live in Africa by mid-century, but also unveils that the continent has the highest child dependency ratio in the world.

Almost 47 per cent of Africans are children under 18, and a child dependency ratio of 73 children under age 15 per 100 persons of working age in 2015, which is close to double the global average. 

Meanwhile, Africa’s old-age dependency ratio, defined as elderly person 65 years and older per 100 working-age persons, is expected to increase slowly from a very low level of 6 in 2015 to 9 in 2050 and climb to 22 in 2100. “These ratios will be far, far lower than anywhere else,” UNICEF says.

The study indicates that child survival has improved in Africa, but the continent still accounts for half of all child deaths, and this figure is set to rise to around 70 per cent by 2050.

While life expectancy for Africa’s children has risen sharply in recent decades, it is still shorter than the global average, according to the report. It states that within 20 years, Africa will have its first generation of children who can expect to reach pensionable age [of 65 years].

Today three in 10 of Africa’s children are living in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, the UN's child rights agency says.

According to the World Bank, 20 out of 34 countries classified in 2014 as having fragile and conflict-affected contexts, are in Africa.

UNICEF says investing in children will be paramount for Africa to realize the rights of its burgeoning child population and reap a potential demographic dividend.

It also recommended investment in girls and women, especially in reproductive health, education, and preventing child marriage as a key to Africa’s demographic transition.

National development plans must take greater account of projected shifts in Africa’s child population and support better data systems, the agency warns.

The projected rise in population also places Africa as a continent with more population living in urban than in rural areas by late 2030s. 

Africa’s urban children are increasingly likely to grow up in the continent’s rapidly expanding megacities with 10 million or more inhabitants, Generation 2030 | Africa: Child demographics in Africa” projects.

It cited Lagos, Africa's second biggest urban agglomeration, will see its population swell by 1.8 times over the next 15 years from 13 million in 2015 to 24 million in 2030, while the populace of Al-Qahirah (Cairo), currently in first place, will expand from 19 million to 25 million over the same period.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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