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Banque Africaine de Developpement (BAD)

African population, a potential for growth, development of the world

By  Zigwai Tagwai

 

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB), also known as Banque Africaine de Developpement (BAD) is a multilateral development finance institution with the motto “Building today, a better tomorrow” and the objective of fighting poverty and improving living conditions on the continent by promoting the investment of public and private capital in projects and programs that are likely to contribute to the economic and social development in the regional member countries has alongside its North and East Governors emphasized the urgency in matching the growing African population with youth employment, referring to it as a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Contrary to the general belief of population increase being detrimental to any nation, the two day-meeting disclosed that the growing young population in the African continent is  a potential growth engine and can be properly developed and utilized for the benefit of the continent and the world at large but this will require substantial and committed investments which led to the endorsement of the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum as an instrument in promoting investments for projects which will further attract financing that will positively impact Africa.

“13 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number is projected to more than double by 2050. Four billion (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to the UN Population Division. Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth. According to Akinwumi Adesina, “We have 12 years left to the Sustainable Development Goals. It is an alarm bell because if Africa does not achieve the SDGs, the world won’t achieve them”.

In an interview with a concerned Nigerian in relation to the announcement by the AFDB, Mr. S. Akinbode, he stated that “despite the possible advantage highlighted of an increased population, there are a number of reasons for a government to be concerned about population growth. If a country is currently overpopulated and agricultural productivity is low, there is a risk that the country may not be able to feed more dependants. Resources which could have been used to improve living standards may have to be devoted to the provision of goods and services for the extra number of dependants in the population”.

“There may also be provision of more health care facilities but health care services per head may fall, increase in population may put pressure on housing and social capital and cause traffic congestion. More people in a country may result in damage to wildlife habitats, water shortages and the depletion of non-renewable resources. If there is an increase in the number of people of working-age, who lack appropriate skills, the government may have to devote more resources to education and training. More dependants in the population may result in a rise in imports and some products may need to be diverted from the export to the home market”.

“Unchecked population growth without equal agricultural advancement to meet it leads to food shortages and inspire overcrowding and civil unrest, areas with high populations experience this now”.

While a representative of the AfDB had the following to say concerning the new development; “A well-managed population growth offers huge benefits for the continent. Firstly, if that population expansion is driven by a focus on job creation then it creates opportunities for Africa’s young demography. A larger population creates demands for education, health, transport and general services that generates jobs, tax revenues and enhanced economic activity”.

“Expanding industries can recruit new and younger workers to the labour force who are likely to be familiar with new ideas and technological methods which will lead to reduced firm training costs. Extra demand will be generated. This is likely to stimulate investment and this may lead to introduction of new technology. Many of the world’s remarkable innovations over the past 300 years are attributable to population growth as great minds lead to greater innovations”.

“More people around the world are living longer lives than even a century earlier thanks to modern medical achievements and while agricultural resources are a very real concern as the world’s population grows, the world’s increase in population is responsible for a greater consciousness of the need for additional resources as well as the innovations to produce food at the pace of population growth. A growing population can generate economic growth”.

“It encourages inventions and innovations through technology to sustain the population. it ensures improved economic conditions if literacy bar is set high, provides competitive advantage amongst employers who are cost conscious contributes to the armed forces of the nations, population also means you have better probability of finding skillful people, learned scholars and genius leaders.

Instead of fretting about the risks associated with managing a larger population, we should be embracing the concept with open arms. Nigeria has the capacity, wit and landmass to play a much bigger role in Africa with its population. By shaping an economy that is open for business, stable and capable of absorbing a much larger number of people”.

A third opinion was given by Mrs. A. Hamman, “Irrespective of the disadvantages that come with population explosion such as pressure of population on land, low per capita income, diseases, food shortages, pollution, low per capita availability of essential articles, burden of unproductive consumers, increase in unemployment, low quality of life, increase in crime level, environmental degradation; a growing population can generate economic growth”.

“The birth of more people means there will be a greater number of parents investing in their youth. Increased purchases in products such as food, clothing, education-related expenses, sporting goods and toys feed the economy. Parents with small children purchase larger homes to make room for their children. The larger homes that parents with children purchase feed the construction industry economically. Children then grow into adults who work for pay and spend it in the economy”.

“People will be forced to come up with new ideas and ways of doing things which will lead to innovations (medical, agricultural and industrial). Not only will we continue to have an abundant labor pool. We shall also have a very dynamic consuming class that will constitute a very large domestic market for all types of manufactured goods and services that can fuel high growth of the economy and attract more domestic and foreign investments. We will have abundant manpower and a large domestic market”.

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