Population growth in Africa has laid the foundation for the eventual development of a prosperous region. Since the 1950s, sub-Saharan Africa has doubled its population twice over to become one of the most populous regions in the world. If sub-Saharan Africa succeeds in taking advantage of this population potential, the sub-continent could become a major player in the world economy.
A major reason sub-Saharan Africa remains poor is the very high child-dependency arising from a very high total fertility rate, and low life expectancy based on both high infant mortality and high adult mortality rates.
Reduced mortality and lower fertility are key requirements if sub-Saharan Africa is to enter a development trajectory that makes possible increasing per capita incomes and reductions in poverty.
BO MALMBERG is a professor in the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University and a research asssociate at the Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm.
Nordiska Afrikainstitutet , 2008.