Africa is the second-largest and second most populous continent on earth with an estimated population in 2016 of 1.2 billion people. Africa is home to 54 recognized sovereign states and countries, 9 territories and 2 de facto independent states with very little recognition. The UN Population Fund stated in 2009 that the population of Africa had hit the one billion mark and had therefore doubled in size over the course of 27 years.
The Population Fund’s Director Thoraya Obeid spoke to the BBC at the time and underlined the reasons behind the growing population.
"African countries are all growing fast ... because there is a large number of women who have no access to planning their families," she said. "It's an African phenomenon of a large growing population and a large percentage of young people in the population."
Africa Population Growth and Life Expectancy
54 countries make up the continent of Africa, and while population growth is relatively low in some areas, countries such as Nigeria and Uganda are increasing at an advanced rate. In most countries in the continent, the population growth is in excess of 2% every year.
In addition, there is a high proportion of younger people within the Africa population as a whole, with reports that 41% of the African population is under the age of 15. The life expectancy is also low – less than 50 in many nations and averaging 52 across the continent as a whole. This has reduced considerably over the course of the last twenty years with a widespread HIV and AIDS epidemic taking much of the blame for that statistic.
Infant mortality is also extremely high, and in Mali, it is reported that there are 102 deaths per 1,000 live births. All of these statistics could potentially lead to a fall in population numbers. but in Africa, the issue over family planning leads to the reverse effect.
The African nations as a whole are made up from such a diverse set of components that it is impossible to list them in full concerning demographics. However, in certain parts of the continent, there has been an increase in Asian and European settlers, which has also served to boost the population statistics as a whole.
The population in Africa has grown rapidly over the last 40 years and it has a relatively young population, with more than half of the population under 25 in some states.
Most Populous Countries in Africa
- Nigeria: 183,523,432
- Ethiopia: 98,942,102
- Egypt: 84,705,681
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: 71,246,355
- South Africa: 53,491,333
Least Populous Countries in Africa
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK) (non-sovereign): 4,124
- Seychelles: 93,754
- São Tomé and Príncipe: 202,781
- Mayotte (France): 233,993
- Cape Verde: 508,315
Africa Population Growth
Any expert would find it hard to argue with the commonly held view that the population of Africa in 2016 and beyond is set for further increases. With little or no measures in place to address the issue, the 2.4 billion prediction for 2050 is entirely plausible.
Africa currently has a very low population density of about 65 people per square mile, which puts it behind Asia, Europe, and South America. The population of Africa is currently projected to quadruple in just 90 years, with a growth rate that will make Africa more important than ever to the global economy.
Africa's Nigeria is currently one of the most populous countries on earth, and as China's population shrinks and India plateaus, Nigeria will reach nearly 1 billion people by 2100 and come close to surpassing China. This is pretty amazing considering the country is about the size of Texas. Nigeria is set for one of the biggest population booms in world history and it's expected to increase by a factor of eight in just two or three generations.
The boom in Africa's population will be in sub-Sahara, including growth in countries like Tanzania, which is one of the poorest countries on earth. Just 13 years ago, the country's population was 34 million, which has now grown to 45 million but is projected to reach 276 million by 2100, which is close to the current population of the U.S.
Many consider Africa's population growth a bit frightening, with predictions placing the continent's population at 2.4 billion by 2050. By 2100, more than half of the world's growth is expected to come from Africa, reaching 4.1 billion people by 2100 to claim over 1/3 of the world's population. Most countries will at least triple in population as the region has very high fertility rates and very little family planning in most regions.
As much of Africa is still developing, and it contains some of the poorest countries on earth, time will tell how it will sustain such massive population growth.