African Population Africanization of the world? The gestation and answer to a question. Characteristics of African population



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African Population

  • Africanization of the world? The gestation and answer to a question.

Characteristics of African population

  • 901 million people in Africa in 2005.
  • Africa has fastest-growing population of all the continents but there is a difference between North Africa and Africa south of the Sahara.
  • Populations in most other regions of the world are declining or beginning to decline.
    • Africa was 8.8% of world population in 1950.
    • Africa is 13.8% of world population in 2005.
    • Africa will be 20.3% of world population in 2050.

Characteristics of African population

  • On average, each woman bears 5 children and sometimes 8.
  • Population increase best explained not by increased fertility but by fewer children dying in infancy. Infant mortality rate is still high (12% on average) but variable:
    • 18% of all children die before age 1 in Sierra Leone.
    • 6% of those in Senegal die before age 1.
  • The geographic pattern of population growth is not uniform across the continent.

Characteristics of African population distribution

  • The population of Africa is clustered in certain areas and most of the rest of Africa is sparsely populated.
  • Sparsely settled regions (<10 persons per mile2).
    • Deserts of the north and southwest.
    • Swampy plains in southeast Angola, Zambia, and DRC.
    • The tsetse-ridden plains of the Congo watershed.
  • Densely settled regions (between 100 and 1000 per mile2).
    • Have economic value out of all proportion to their extent.
    • Contain about half of Africa’s population on <5% of its land area.
  • Six major population clusters
  • The Nile valley and delta in Egypt.
  • The Gulf of Guinea coast.
  • Hausaland.
  • Ethiopian highlands.
  • Lake Victoria region.
  • The southern Transvaal industrial and mining region.
  • Cairo
  • Lagos
  • Kinshasa
  • Addis Ababa
  • Dar es Salaam
  • Nairobi
  • Cape Town
  • Durban
  • Casablanca
  • Abidjan
  • Dakar
  • Kano
  • Alexandria
  • Ibadan

Characteristics of African population

  • Advantages to high populations and population growth:
    • Greater supply of labor.
    • Market demand.
  • Disadvantages to high population and especially rapid population growth:
    • Housing shortage.
    • Problem of food supply.
    • Land shortage.
    • Cost of education.
    • Poverty.
    • High dependency ratio: children under 15 make up more than 40% of the population in some countries.
  • Most regions of Africa are growing rapidly.
  • Some countries are increasing at a significantly higher rate than others.
  • Others are growing much more slowly.

Influences on child-bearing

  • Level of development.
  • Percent of the population in agriculture.
  • Urbanism.
  • Religion or other ideology.
  • Prevalence of gonorrhea.
  • Length of breast feeding.
  • Pronatalist position of government.

How can we understand African population growth and change?

Explanations of Population Growth

  • Malthus’ theory.
  • Neomalthusian theory
  • Technocratic theory.
  • Marx’s theory.
  • Boserup’s theory.
  • Demogaphic transition theory.

Thomas Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population (1798).

  • Thomas Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population (1798).
  • Quality of life and population size are inversely related.
  • Population size in any given area is limited by the available food.
  • Available food is relatively fixed by the quality of the land (the “carrying capacity”).
  • Food production can only increase arithmetically while population increases geometrically.
  • Population grows until it reaches and then exceeds the limits of the resources then dies off.

Similar to the Malthusian theory except disaster is averted in the short term by:

  • Neomalthusians
  • Similar to the Malthusian theory except disaster is averted in the short term by:
    • Movement of a population to new areas where unexploited resources can be tapped.
    • New technological inventions which permit higher population densities to be supported.
  • BUT disaster is supposed to strike as Malthus stated when:
    • There is no more available land or,
    • Technological innovation lags behind population growth.

Sometimes called the “cornucopian” theory.

  • The technocratic theory of population
  • Sometimes called the “cornucopian” theory.
  • Associated with the noted Economist, Dr. Julian Simon.
  • Accepts basic tenets of Malthus and Neomalthusians.
  • BUT holds that advances in technology will mitigate any population problems we may experience in the future.

Ester Boserup (d. 2004).

  • The Boserupian Theory of Population
  • Ester Boserup (d. 2004).
  • Opposite to Malthus.
  • Population growth causes technological change which can raise the carrying capacity(development).
  • As population grows, technology will change in order to support the increased population.
  • Population growth causes society to change so that more people can be supported -- thus avoiding the Malthusian crisis.
  • Population growth causes increases in development.

Forest fallow.

  • Forest fallow.
  • Bush fallow.
  • Short fallow.
  • Annual cropping.
  • Multicropping.

The population “problem” is a reflection of unequal access to resources between the classes of society.

  • Marxist Theory of Population
  • The population “problem” is a reflection of unequal access to resources between the classes of society.
  • If we redistribute wealth, access to resources, and opportunity equally to all then the population “problem” evaporates.
  • But Marx believed that capitalism needs overpopulation (the “reserve army of the unemployed”) to keep wages low and profit margins high.
  • The population problem will disappear after capitalism is overthrown and communism rules.

Based on the experience of most European countries and Japan.

  • Based on the experience of most European countries and Japan.
  • Basic assumption is that economic development causes population growth.
  • Economic development also limits population growth as part of a process over time.
  • Other areas of the world are hypothesized to undergo the same process as Europe did as economic development progresses.
  • The Stages of the Demographic Transition
  • Literacy, an aspect of development, has a profound impact on the average number of children a woman bears.

The coming African demographic century?

The world population is increasing at a decreasing rate

Africa’s population is still rapidly growing

  • The population of Africa (esp. SSA) is the last large one to begin the demographic transition.
  • It is growing faster than any other population in the world.
  • It will continue to be the fastest growing region of the world to the end of this century.
  • By 2050 the population of Africa will be close to 2 billion

The demographic momentum of Africa

  • By world standards Africa’s population boom is tardy.
  • But in this case the last will be first.
  • Pull factors: to maintain it’s economically-active population, Europe must bring in millions of people from abroad.
  • Push factors: Africa’s robust population growth and the continuation of developmental disparities between Europe and Africa will push Africans to migrate.



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