Africa’s population is predicted to more than double to 2.4 billion people by 2050 according to a new study that also raises questions about whether efforts to lift the continent out of poverty may be in vain.
The 10 countries with the world’s highest fertility rates are all in sub-Saharan Africa, where mothers have an average of 5.2 children, according to a report released Thursday from the Washington DC-based Population Reference Bureau.
In Niger, which has the world’s fastest population growth rate, women give birth to an average of 7.6 children, four times the US figure of 1.9.
“Rapid population growth makes it difficult for economies to create enough jobs to lift large numbers of people out of poverty,” said Wendy Baldwin, the organization’s president.
Seven of the 10 countries with the highest fertility rates also appear among the bottom 10 on the United Nations’ Human Development Index.
International aid agencies are increasingly focusing efforts in Africa on family planning by advising governments how to increase access to contraceptives and helping women choose when to have children.
But this is unpopular in some countries, especially where religious doctrines that frown on contraception hold sway with government leaders.
By 2050, many African states will likely more than double in population. Kenya will rise from 44 million to 97 million people, and Nigeria from 174 million to 440 million.
Some nations will nearly triple their growth, the reports finds. Somalia will have 27 million people in 2050, up from an estimated 10 million today; the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 71 million population is predicted to rise to 182 million.
The total number of people on the continent is predicted to rise from 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion.
The US population was estimated to rise from 316 million to 400 million over the same period.