21st October 2021
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Nigeria's Population

For the first time in a long while, I watched an expert who truly believes, not in a patronising way, in the possibility of Africa developing. I am not talking about blind optimism but an optimism based on facts, realities and the sheer belief in the capacities of humans to surmount difficulties. I am truly excited.

During my recent policy analysis on the gains and outcomes of UK Africa Investment Summit on channels TV beam, some friends privately chided me on my optimism for Africa. They said, Ides, can’t you see how the continent is? I am not oblivious to our excruciating poverty. However, I sincerely believe that in the face of such depressing news, there is a tiny glimmer of hope. And it’s that light I choose to concentrate on.

As more and more Africans make choices such as going for the peak of higher education that have possibilities to forever change their trajectories, I believe they will begin to band together to improve the lot of the continent. More people will not only escape poverty, but actually lead better lives. Africans will also collectively come up with solutions to the wide range of problems – African solutions to African problems.

In this video, Professor Hans Rosling demonstrates the facts about population, climate change and development. Seven billion people now live in this world and with the recent climate activism sweeping everywhere, some people panic when they think about the growing population and how it affects the future of the planet. They think that population growth is out of control. I hear this all the time about Nigeria and Africa. These people sincerely believe that the planet cannot support more people. Further, there have been high profile personalities choosing to have fewer children or not having at all due to this reason. For example, Prince Harry of the United Kingdom famously said he was going to have only two children because of consideration of the future of the planet earth.

Prof. Hansling in this video uses graphical statistics to show us the true state of world population and how this affects our way of life. The future may not always be gloomy after all as mankind has found ways of ensuring population balance on the planet. Fifty years ago, the poorest people in world were in Asia and Africa. Many experts said that people in Asia will never come out of Poverty. The story is different today. It’s the same way people still ask, what about Africa? Will Africa ever develop? Is the population growth not out of control? Won’t most of them still be living in poverty? The truth is that fertility rates are still very high in most of Africa. Unfortunately, it’s the poorest people who have large families and most mouths to feed. Nevertheless, economic growth is slowly trickling into the continent. A few African countries are making steady progress. For example, Mozambique has one of the fastest growing economies providing new jobs. Take note that the good news is not just in cities and towns. Things are also changing in villages and in the rural areas too. Watch the video to see details.

That does not mean that it’s good news all the way. More than one billion people still live in extreme poverty. Africa will need huge investments and deliberate wise actions. What about feeding? African yields are currently just a fraction of what they could be with better technology. The rivers are barely tapped for irrigation technology. Once these resources and potentials are exploited, Africa will be able to feed itself. We will only manage by their own hard work. That is why I believe in the transforming power of knowledge and personal development. Getting out of poverty is just the beginning.

What you will learn from watching the video

In the year 10,000 BC when the world population were becoming resident farmers, archaeologists estimated that world population was just 10 million. As empires started emerging for example Egypt, China, India and finally Europe, the world population became 1 billion. With industrial revolution in the 1800s, everything changed. Population growth ballooned since then.

However, as population growth slowed down in Europe and North America, things are changing in developing countries. People in developing countries are choosing to have small family sizes as opposed to previously when large family size was the norm. The fertility rate, the number of children born per woman, is reducing. For example, more women are choosing to go to school and use contraceptives. This was rightly said by his Majesty, the Emir of Kano, that education is the natural contraceptive for women. Furthermore, as life expectancy increases and babies live longer, family sizes are getting smaller. In the past where life expectancy was very low, many families had many children as they did’t know which child will live or die. However, with child mortality rate dropping fast, more families are choosing to have fewer babies.

In 1963, the average number of children born per woman in the world was 5. In 2012, the average became 2.5. In developed countries, the families were of small size but lived longer lives while in developing countries, the families were larger and had shorter life span. As earlier mentioned, one of the reasons given for smaller families is the dramatic improvement of child survival. Great progress has been made in child health. Better hygiene also contributed to this dramatic fall in size.

The unfortunate news for the planet is that as more people have smaller families and escape poverty, they want good life. This means that there will be more machines and much more use of energy. All these add to one of the great threats of climate change not necessarily population growth. 80 percent of the world still depend on fossil fuels. Due to the carbon dioxide emission, the climate will change dramatically. But the question is, who emits the carbon dioxide the most? All the fossil fuel is used by the most developed countries in the world (smaller family size) while the poorest country (large family size) barely uses any. The sad news is that though Africa contributes the least, it is going to suffer the most negative effects. And that’s why tackling this change should be the responsibility of everyone.

Some interesting facts in the video

The richest people in the world make an average of 100 dollar per day, the middle income earners 10 dollars, while the poor, just 1 dollar

More than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty

80 percent of adults are literate

The current view of the world is outdated by several decades. The media has refused to correct the negative narratives that the world is changing so fast. Africa is definitely a victim of the media still portraying the continent as one where nothing good happens. That’s why most people in the world believe that Africans live on trees with wild animals roaming about. That everyone on the continent is starving and dying. I mean, someone in the USA once told me I speak good English. Of course she is ignorant of the fact that Nigeria was colonised by the United Kingdom. If you schooled in Nigeria, English becomes like a mother tongue to you.

Watch the Full Video here

Prof Rosling shares more on population facts and development

Hans Rosling was a Swedish physician, academic, and public speaker. He was the Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and was the co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation. He died in 2017 aged 68.

Feature Image: qz.com/Africa

Ides Ofune

Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at info@desertbloomadvisory.com