By Ronald Musoke
A recent report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has concluded that in the next three generations, 41% of the world’s youth will be African.
The report by the Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim’s foundation says because Africa is the only continent with a significantly growing youth population, in less than three generations, 41 per cent of the world’s youth will be native Africans.
The report titled, ‘African Youths: Fulfilling the Potential’ says Africa’s youth population has been rising over the last 60 years.
The report notes that between 2000 and 2100, Africa will gain 340 million young people, compared to a net increase of 137 million in the world due to diminishing cohorts in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
According to the 2010 Revision of the UN World Population Prospects, in 1950, African youth were 9% out of a continental population of 459 million but by 2000, out of 1,080 billion Africans, the youth constituted 15%.
By 2050, the youth will constitute about 31% of the projected 1,245 billion people living on the continent, and 50 years later, their strength will rise by 10 percentage points.
And although Africa’s dependency ratio is currently the highest in the world due to child dependency, the report notes that in less than two generations, Africa will have the lowest dependency ratio due to an increasing labour force, declining child dependency ratio and a low old dependency ratio.
In an interesting shift of fortunes, Latin America will become the region with the highest dependency ratio closely followed by Europe and North Africa.
The report also paints a rather rosy picture about Africa’s labour force prospects.
It notes that by 2035, the continental labour force will be larger than that of China and five years later, Africa’s labour force will be larger than India’s. By 2050; Africa’s labour force will be at least three times bigger than Europe’s and a quarter of the world’s total workforce.
However, the report is cautious about how Africa will benefit from this imminent demographic dividend.
“How do we ensure that the African youth will compete at the global level not only due to sheer numbers? What is the future that we are creating for our most precious resource?” the report asks.
In 1970, the world’s labour force totaled 1.9b and Africa had 10% of this. This rose to 13% out of about 3.4b workforce in 2000. This figure is expected to rise further to 27% out of a world total labour force of five billion in 2050.