Opinion today: Africa’s demographic destiny
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Africa is on the verge of a demographic explosion. While populations in Europe and the Americas have stopped growing — and the number of people in Asia is expected to peak at around 5bn by 2050 — there is no sign of a similar slowdown in Africa. In fact, the UN predicts the number of people on the continent will double in 30 years to 2bn and again, to 4bn, by the end of the century.
This growth could be either a boon or a burden, writes David Pilling in his column. If all these new people can find education, jobs and opportunity, then global growth will gradually shift to African countries. But if they cannot, the same countries could be faced with food shortages, communal violence and increased rates of emigration. African leaders should not fall into the trap of blithely anticipating the former, argues David. Instead they should focus on making sure jobs are available to the young and on educating women, so they can make informed choices about contraception.
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