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The Economist Examines Africa’s Demographic Transition

The Economist examines how Africa’s economic growth is resulting in a demographic transition “that others have already traced: as people get richer, they have fewer children” and poses the question: “Can Africa capitalise on the demographic dividend?”

Despite slowed population growth, food and water shortages continue to grip the continent and “[t]he task of providing for hungry and thirsty people will be complicated by climate change,” the magazine writes. As a result of its demographic transition, “Africa will suffer less from these afflictions than it otherwise would. But it cannot remove them altogether, because the continent’s population will continue to grow, albeit more slowly.” Additionally, “HIV/AIDS is damaging that very section of the population—working-age adults—on which the demographic dividend depends.”

The article concludes: “Demography needs to be put in perspective. It is not destiny. Africa needs a green revolution; more efficient cities; more female education; honest governments; better economic policies. Without those things, Africa will not reap its demographic dividend. But without the transition that Africa has started upon, the continent’s chances of achieving those good things would be even lower than they are. Demography is a start” (8/27).