Africa’s population will reach four billion by 2100, according to a report released by UNICEF early this week. As the population grows, more investment in maternal health and family planning resources will be needed to ensure women’s reproductive health.
The authors of the report, titled Generation 2030 Africa, predict 1.8 billion births will occur in Africa over the next 35 years. By 2050, children born in Africa will make up 40 percent of children under 18 worldwide, and the number of women of reproductive age will double in the next 35 years.
Although fertility rates have fallen in Africa, an average of 5.2 children are still born to each African woman, far outpacing the rates for other regions. This high rate may be partially attributed to lack of access to family planning resources. In Cameroon, close to two-thirds of women have an unmet need for contraception. They cite several reasons for not using contraception, including the lack of adequately trained health care providers, frequent unavailability of contraceptive supplies, and limited choice of methods. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Democratic Health Survey found that only 9.8 percent of Nigerian women use family planning, while 16.1 percent have an unmet need for family planning services. Additionally, Africa has a high child mortality rate, with one out of every 11 African child dying by age five.
“We want to see African leaders… make the correct and right investments in children that are needed to build a skilled, dynamic African labor force that’s productive and can grow, and can add value to the economy,” said lead author David Anthony in an interview with NPR.
At the recent 2014 US-Africa White House Leaders Summit, President Obama and other speakers also emphasized the need to address the status of women and girls across the African continent. In addition to public and private commitments of up to $33 billion for trade and investment, the United States called on leaders of the African continent to make a considerable investment in advancing the status of women and girls, which would potentially help reduce the maternal mortality and population growth rate.
Media Resources: NPR 8/13/14; UNICEF 8/11/14; Daily Times Nigeria 7/31/14; Feminist Newswire 10/31/11, 8/7/14, 8/8/14; Feminist Majority Foundation