How books can defuse the population bomb in developing countries
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.