Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment

How books can defuse the population bomb in de­vel­op­ing countries

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents -

The most re­cent pro­jec­tion by the United Na­tions shows the world population would reach 9.8 bil­lion by 2050 from the cur­rent 7.6 bil­lion. The UN also states that out of the ad­di­tional 2.2 bil­lion peo­ple that may be added to the world's population by 2050, Africa will con­trib­ute about 1.3 bil­lion, fol­lowed by Asia, which is ex­pected to con­trib­ute about 750 mil­lion peo­ple. Hence, Africa will ac­count for more than half of this ex­pected growth.

As gov­ern­ments around the world seek to turn the population tide, one strat­egy that has proved to be sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive is teach­ing women to read. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in the de­vel­op­ing world, which is ex­pected to ac­count for much of the world's population growth. De­vel­op­ing countries have the highest fer­til­ity rates of av­er­age 4.3 births per woman. For ex­am­ple, Nige­ria, cur­rently the 7th most pop­u­lous coun­try in the world, with es­ti­mated 180 mil­lion peo­ple, is ex­pected to be­come the world's third largest coun­try, with a population of over 300 mil­lion by 2050.

In con­trast to the 4.3 births per woman in most de­vel­op­ing countries in Africa and Asia, the birth rate in Europe is just 1.6 births per woman. For the world to over­come hunger, poverty and il­lit­er­acy, we have no bet­ter choice than to con­trol population growth in de­vel­op­ing countries. This will help in re­duc­ing the pres­sure on al­ready over­bur­dened nat­u­ral and eco­nomic re­sources in many countries across the globe.

The high and un­sta­ble population growth in most parts of Africa and Asia is one of the rea­sons proper plan­ning for the well­be­ing of ev­ery in­di­vid­ual us­ing the avail­able re­sources is con­strained. In Nige­ria, an es­ti­mated 4.9 mil­lion peo­ple will be added to the coun­try's population be­tween July 2017 and July 2018 at a cur­rent fer­til­ity rate of 5.67 births per woman.

We are still go­ing to have this huge number of peo­ple added to the population de­spite the likely de­cline in gov­ern­ment rev­enues. Oil price de­cline au­to­mat­i­cally re­duces gov­ern­ment's rev­enue. When this hap­pens for months, it sends shock­waves to the econ­omy, crash­ing gov­ern­ments' nonoil rev­enue as well. This was the case in the fourth quar­ter of 2017, when to­tal fed­er­ally-col­lected rev­enue was 11.9 per cent lower than the re­ceipts in the pre­ced­ing quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria.

Here's the prob­lem: While the population surges, there is no com­men­su­rate in­crease in job op­por­tu­ni­ties, health care ser­vices, so­cial ameni­ties, in­fras­truc­ture and ed­u­ca­tion sup­port, among other ba­sic needs. More peo­ple will have to do with less. To be sure, there has been some in­crease in do­mes­tic food pro­duc­tion but cer­tainly not enough to feed this teem­ing population with­out re­sort­ing to food im­ports to sup­ple­ment the deficit.

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