Africa’s Population Explosion: 5.6 Billion Forecast by 2100 – is this Catastrophic?

By Hank Pellissier | 18 August 2015
Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

(Photo: Flickr / Julien Harneis)
(Photo: Flickr / Julien Harneis)

A recent United Nations study predicts Africa’s population will more than quadruple in the next 85 years, rising from today’s 1.2 billion to 5.6 billion.

Africans, if the present trend continues, will comprise 50% of the global population of 11 billion, by 2100.

The study, released by the UN Population Division director, John R. Wilmoth, in Seattle, suggests that Nigeria’s population will leap from today’s 182 million to 752 million people.

Although Africa’s total fertility rate has been in decline, it is declining at only one-quarter of the rate that Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean declined in the 1970s.

The report believes rapid population growth in Africa will trigger social problems such as poverty, crime, unemployment and political unrest, plus it will make resources scarce and elevate pollution.

Asia, with its present population of 4.4 billion, is expected to climb by 2010 to 5.3 billion, and then decline to around 4.9 billion.

Will Africa, the world’s poorest continent, be devastated by runaway population? What is causing this acceleration in numbers? Can this trend be stopped? Are Africans themselves concerned, or not?

To determine answers to these questions, I interviewed, via email, a Ugandan associate – Bwambale Robert Musubaho – the director of Kasese Humanist Primary School and co-founder of the recently-established BiZoHa orphanage.

Our discussion is below:

Hank Pellissier: If Africa’s population rises to 5.6 billion in 2100 – is there enough land, food and sufficient infrastructure and government to manage a population that size?

Bwambale Robert Musubaho: It will be a problem having Africa’s population raise to 5.6 billion if issues of food availability, human settlement, improvement in working conditions, job availability, improvement in infrastructure, and stable governments – are not in place.

Africa is rich in land, it shouldn’t be a problem to accommodate increasing population; there are huge chunks of land seen all over Africa. A good thing is that most parts are fertile for crop farming, others are rich in mineral wealth, and forests, and there are conducive climatic conditions. Even the dry lands, especially in the northern parts, are rich with sand and oil deposits.

Putting sufficient infrastructures in place is important to think about by our governments.

Do you think Africans will adopt birth control measures to avoid this population increase? I have heard Africans don’t generally practice birth control.

I think to some extend a section of Africans especially from the elite class have already started to accept birth control and practice family planning, but the non-educated plus those who embrace polygamy still produce many children. Most Africans still regard having many children as a gift and, at the same time, as a source of wealth especially females when they get married.

Other Africans out of ignorance and religious misinformation look at birth control as a way for the western world to weaken or reduce the expected number of African people with an intention to take over their land, mineral wealth and everything else Africans own.

This attitude will change over time as people realize the dangers associated with population explosion. There is a need to empower Africans with information on birth control, the dangers of overpopulation, and the right to say No to misleading voices from religious zealots who are against birth control practices.

Why do Africans have such a high fertility rate? Do they like big families, or are many births “accidental’?

The fact that there are only a few who practice protected sex, plus the high percentage of polygamy, can answer this question.

Another factor can be linked to unemployment – which leads to idleness – where most people resort to acts of sex and end up producing children.

Africa is also prone to problems associated with poverty, disease, ignorance and political instabilities in some countries. Africans have a mentality that people just grow up by luck, so people think that you should have many children because you can not be sure all of them will make it to old age, due to the life we go through.

In African traditions, all cultures value children and the more you have – the higher social status is accorded to you.

Is the fertility rate high because Africans are religious, and religious leaders say birth control is forbidden? Which religions oppose birth control, and which do not? 

Religion has a big influence in raising the population dynamics as they promote people to reproduce and subdue the world. Religious people view having children as a gift from god. Most religions are against condom use, and against abortion, and others promote Polygamy.

Catholics, Anglicans plus several American Evangelical churches like Baptist, Adventist, Methodist, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s witness are against condom use and birth control practices. Islam is known worldwide as a promoter of polygamy where it encourages its folks to marry as many women as they can wish or manage.

I as an African am not surprised seeing a population rise in Africa as a majority of people, whether educated or non-educated, have grown up in bondage with religion.

The religions we have in Africa are both indigenous (Africa traditional religion) and foreign (brought to Africa in the colonial times era). The most recent ones are spreading everywhere like mushrooms. All these religions are great contributors to over population.

Do Africans like to use condoms? If they do not, what is the reason, is it religious or just because sex feels better without condoms, or both?

Very few Africans like to use them, even when they do use them, they say that they reduce the sex pleasure. Africans have a saying that “a sweet wrapped in polythene is never sweet.”

Some Africans also don’t have enough money to buy condoms so they just go on with unprotected sex.

Some cultures – due to primitivism and ignorance – have misconceptions about condoms and think that the whites who make them might have a hidden agenda to weaken Africans or wish them to remain few in this world so that they remain voiceless.

Do you worry about the future of Africa, if the population does go to 5.6 billion?

If the population trend continues as it is presently, I am completely worried. Our governments should try all it can do to warn its people about the dangers of overpopulation, and encourage religions to wise up and revise their stand on birth control, condom use and abortion.

People from all walks of life should be taught sex education. And cultural practices and taboos on birth control should be revised.

Sex education is not taught in most schools, due to religious beliefs. Kasese Humanist Primary School, where I am director, does offer sex education. We are secular. My new school, the BiZoHa campus, will also offer sex education.

Do Africans resent “white people” who want them to lower their fertility rate? Do they regard this attitude as interference, or racist, or just none-of-our-business?

Yes, sometimes. Where Africans are well informed about birth control and family planning issues, they welcome the white person, but where they are ignorant of his or her motives they will not give audience. In areas which are still primitive, uneducated or highly religious, they will not listen.

Are there enough clinics in your community where birth control is available? If not, why not?

There are not enough clinics, there is scarcity of medical establishments in my community, the few clinics do which exist belong to private individuals. The government does own a few clinics, but surprisingly, due to high rates of corruption, fraud and mismanagement, few or no medicines or services are offered.

Reprinted with permission by the author.

Hank Pellissier serves as the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Interim Managing Director and Fundraiser.

Global Speak Out Video

Al Gore On African Population

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here