25 August 2009
Africa’s population has reached one billion, says a report published jointly by the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau and US government aid agency USAID.
The report, a companion to the Population Reference Bureau’s 2009 world population Data Sheet, provides data and analysis on world population trends, youth, gender and the environment.
According to the report, the world’s population is on track to reach seven billion in 2011, just 12 years after reaching six billion in 1999.
Virtually all of this growth is in developing countries, while the world’s youth population growth is shifting to the poorest of these countries, says the report, adding that the population change will shape the prospects of regions and countries over the next half century.
According to the report, Africa’s population is growing by about 24-million a year, and is expected to double to nearly two billion by 2050.
Although population growth has slowed in North African countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, women in sub-Saharan Africa have on average more children than women elsewhere.
“While globally the average woman has 2.6 children, in sub-Saharan Africa she has 5.3 children (which is down from 6.7 children in around 1950), the world’s highest,” the report said.
Most youthful population
Worldwide, 62% of married women of childbearing age use contraception, but in Africa the figure is 28%, according to the report, which also found that sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s most youthful population, “and it is projected to stay that way for decades.”
In 2050, the African continent is expected to have 349-million young people, or 29% of the world’s total, a sharp rise from the nine percent of the world’s youth in 1950, the report noted.
While less than 60% of youngsters go to secondary schools worldwide, that figure is less than 30% in sub-Saharan Africa.
HIV prevalence declines
The report also noted that HIV prevalence appears to be on the decline in Africa, although the rate of infection is still much higher than elsewhere.
Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world, with 26% of people aged between 15 and 49 being HIV-positive.
Although Africa has a seventh of the world’s people, it has a quarter of the world’s refugees, the report said.