Quarter of global population will be African by 2050: UN agency

Schoolchildren play on May 28, 2014 in a dusty field in Mathare, one of the poorest slums in Nairobi, Kenya. UNICEF, the UN children's agency, says that within 35 years, based on current trends, 25 in 100 people will be African and 40 per c
Schoolchildren play on May 28, 2014 in a dusty field in Mathare, one of the poorest slums in Nairobi, Kenya. UNICEF, the UN children's agency, says that within 35 years, based on current trends, 25 in 100 people will be African and 40 per cent of the world's children aged under five years will come from the continent.  -- PHOTO: AFP

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - A quarter of the world's population will be African within 35 years, the UN children's agency said on Tuesday, as the continent's birth rates continue to rapidly rise.

High fertility rates coupled with a rise in the number of women of child-bearing age will see two billion babies born in the region by 2050, UNICEF said in a report.

"Based on current trends, within 35 years, 25 in 100 people will be African," according to the report released in Johannesburg.

By then 40 per cent of the world's children aged under five years will come from the continent.

Nigeria, the region's most populous country, will account for 10 per cent of global births by 2050.

Africa's 1.2 billion people will double in size between 2015 and the middle of the century, and reach 4.2 billion by 2100.

The growth spike means more overcrowding, and population density is set to have jumped tenfold to 80 people per square kilometre over the century up to 2050 - still far lower than current figures in Asia.

By the late 2030s most of the continent's people will live in cities.

But children still struggle to survive in Africa, which accounts for more than half the number of global child deaths.

One in every 11 children dies before reaching the age of five.

Three in 10 African minors live in "fragile and conflict-affected contexts", said UNICEF, urging governments to invest more in their children.

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments