Is Africa Ready for Population Growth?
By admin January 17, 2019

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Africa’s population today is estimated at 1.2 billion. Population growth in Africa is projected to double in the next three decades to 2 billion. As the world faces many challenges related to global warming, civil and international conflicts, and humanitarian crises, the thought of more people on this earth heightens insecurities. However, more people can create opportunities for sustainable solutions to such challenges.

According to a study by Maplecroft, a strategic consulting firm, the fastest growing cities in Africa are the most vulnerable to climate change over the next 30 years. Climate disasters cause significant damage to infrastructure and economic productivity. According to the UNDP 2018 Climate Change Adaptation in Africa report data shows that even where projects are being implemented to enable communities to adapt to climate change and build resilience, emissions are still going up. Despite the manifestation of environmental challenges, like drought, flooding and environmental degradation, people are working to mitigate such disastrous events.  

While population growth happens in urban and rural areas, there is a spur of people migrating from rural areas to cities. Therefore, migration and population growth are driving many places to obtain megacity status, meaning a city has more than 10 million people. Unchecked rapid urbanization leads to informal settlements or slums that are more susceptible to floods. And, an increase of inadequate housing structures coupled with low sanitation standards can lead to illnesses or even death.  

National and city governments need to look inward and increase their investments in affordable housing, functional roads that provide connectivity, and vibrant job markets. More people represent more consumers and consumerism drives investment, trade, competition, and innovation. To promote an increase in infrastructure investments, the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched the Africa50 Infrastructure Fund, an initiative to encourage private sector investment into capital projects that accelerate infrastructure delivery. AfDB estimated Africa’s infrastructure financing needs between $130-170 billion per year.

Over the next few years, African cities need to prepare for sustainable expansion. Egypt is on its way to building a new city to replace Cairo. The project boasts a green space larger than New York City’s Central Park, a smart traffic system, but most importantly, it will potentially be the home to 6.5 million residents. There are hopes to attract foreign investors and global companies to the new city as well.

Other major African cities have to plan for more residents drawn to the possibilities of a better life. Not only is improving the current urban landscape and infrastructure a priority but looking into the construction of satellite cities and the development of robust metropolitan areas interconnected with major cities is also of utmost importance in order to absorb the influx of new people.  

Economic inclusion requires that everyone has the opportunity to join the development process. When there is limited capacity for a growing population to participate in the formal economy, people will move to other locations to find that economic opportunity. Africa has to perform at a higher standard concerning governance, connectivity through transportation and trade, adequate housing, and economic momentum that creates jobs for the increasing population. Investments made, or not made, today will have a serious impact on the future generations in Africa.


For More Information:

What does 2019 hold for Africa?

84% of the world’s fastest growing cities face ‘extreme’ climate change risks?

Top 10 fastest growing African cities and what’s fuelling their growth

Figure of the week: Climate change  vulnerability and urban population growth

Egypt builds a new capital city to replace Cairo

Africa’s infrastructure financing needs are estimated to be up to $170 billion a year

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