Population: How Many People Will Live in Africa in 2100?

By Samir KC, IIASA World Population Program (Originally published on the Globalist)

Africa is rising fast, at least demographically. Today, the continent is home to more than a billion people, of which some 950 million of them living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN, for its part, predicts that the continent’s population will double by 2050 — and then double again by the end of this century, to make it a continent of more than 4 billion.

This staggering number – equal to the entire world population as recently as 1980 — may concern many doomsayers, but in reality it contains a lot of good news.

One main reason for the increase is that better living conditions reduce child mortality and create opportunities for longer and healthier lives.

This crucial shift results in a rapidly rising number of adults who are driving the continent’s demographic future.

That development is similar to what occurred in Asia over the last 30 years, which in turn had previously occurred in the Western world.

Barry Aliman, 24 years old, bicycles with her baby to fetch water for her family, Sorobouly village near Boromo, Burkina Faso.   Photo by Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Barry Aliman, 24 years old, bicycles with her baby to fetch water for her family, Sorobouly village near Boromo, Burkina Faso. Photo by Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

UN’s optimistic projections
However, as Wolfgang Fengler and I highlighted recently, in contrast to the UN Population Division’s projections, it is far from certain that Africa will even reach a population totaling 3 billion, and the world 10 billion, by the end of this century.

According to our projections at the Wittgenstein Center, projecting population by age, sex, and educational attainment for almost all countries of the World, Africa’s population may only rise to some 2.6 billion by 2100. That number is only 60% of the 4.4 billion predicted by the UN.

The differences are stark across the biggest African countries. In some countries’ cases, the UN’s forecast is much higher – in fact, even more than double (e.g. Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Niger, Angola and Mozambique, See table).

table-1

Data: UN Population Division and The Wittgenstein Center

How is it possible to have such sharp differences in population projections, which are generally known for their accuracy?

The rate of Africa’s future population growth will mostly depend on two factors. First, the number of children per woman and, second, the chance of those children to survive (which is now much higher, thanks to improving living conditions).

Decline in fertility rate
In any projection far into the future, even a small difference in the number of children per woman makes a big difference in total population numbers when its effect is viewed cumulatively over several generations.

At the core of the two vastly different forecasts is this: The UN assumes that fertility will only decline slowly to 3 children per woman by 2050 — and then 2.6 children by 2070.

These projections are based on the observation that, while fertility has stagnated in parts of Africa in the last decade, it will decline more slowly than it had been declining in other parts of the world.

In contrast, the Wittgenstein Center assumes that the patterns that we will come to observe in Africa are not going to be much different from the case in the other regions of the world, as they went through their demographic transitions.

Once countries urbanize and citizens become wealthier, fertility declines, everywhere.

The most important factor is women’s education. Already today, an Ethiopian woman with secondary education has on average only 1.6 children, compared to a woman with no education who has 6 children.

This relationship is true across Africa (see figure).

Fertility-rate

Source: Demographic and Health Surveys

Similar trend in Asia
We know that access to education is expanding across Africa. There is even talk of an education dividend.

Once all girls go to school and stay there longer, they will have fewer children, especially as they will also be exposed to a more modern lifestyle, be it through TV, the cell phone and the fact that Africa is urbanizing rapidly.

This has also been the experience in Asia. It took about 20 years in Asia for its fertility to decline from more than 5 children per woman during early 1970s to less than 3 children per woman in early 1990s.

Similarly, India took about 20 years for its fertility to decline from 4.7 children per woman in early 1980s to 3.1 by early 2000s.

With new development and the plans for the better future in the making, it won’t be a surprise if the average African family would have only three children as soon as 2035.

If that assumption bears out, then Africa cannot reach 4 billion — and the world would peak this century at below 10 billion.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Nexus blog, nor of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

South-south cooperation for healthy, productive and sustainably managed forests

by Stephan Pietsch, IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program

A failed north-south cooperation. Photo Credit: Stephan Pietsch

A solar village project in Africa hit hard times when spare parts were not available  to repair the solar cells. Photo Credit: Stephan Pietsch

When we hear about cooperative efforts to preserve forests in the Southern Hemisphere, they are usually between wealthy countries in the Northern Hemisphere, which provide funding or expertise, and developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere. “Northern” solutions, however, may fail under “Southern” conditions, sometimes due to lack of access to equipment, spare parts, or maintenance expertise. Cooperation between countries within the Southern Hemisphere, or “South-South cooperation” is therefore becoming increasingly important because such cooperation allow countries to profit from others’ experiences.

That is why I recently co-organized a side event on the topic at the FAO XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban South Africa last month. The event brought together experts in the field to discuss recent successes and the current limitations of South-South cooperation in forestry, provide a forum for exchange among ongoing cooperation projects in the training, education, science, and policy sectors, and promote enhanced South-South cooperation within forestry. An excellent example of one of these success stories are the horticultural practices for agroforestry developed at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), which operate without the need for sterile working environments.

The event focused not only on the role of Southern Hemisphere cooperation within the forestry sector, but also stressed interconnected issues like food security, climate change mitigation and economic development. As such, cooperation in forestry in the Southern Hemisphere may become a key vehicle for socioeconomic development and food security by integration of forests and other land uses.

Trucks carrying logs in Gunung Lumut, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.   Photo by Jan van der Ploeg for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Trucks carrying logs in Gunung Lumut, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Photo by Jan van der Ploeg for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

What makes such cooperation successful? The participants identified efforts in capacity building such as training forest-dependent people in rural communities, but also establishing value chains and marketing expertise including local businesses and policymakers to jointly cooperate for improved decision making. Using South-South cooperation to foster product innovation and sustainable trade provides us with a promising pathway for building resilience with forests: Resilience in an ecological sense, but equally well in an economic, sociological and political sense in order to ensure sustainable futures for the global South. The side event promoted such solutions to increase the visibility and impact of ongoing South-South cooperation at the local, regional, continental and global level.

pietsch-workshop

Photo credit: Stephan Pietsch

Event Information

World Forestry Congress – Side Event
The way forward via integrated South-South cooperation” with Dr. Tachrir Fathoni (Indonesia), Dr. Zacharie Tchoundjeu (Cameroon), Dr. Alexandre X. Ywata de Carvalho (Brazil), Dr. Coert Galdenhuys (South Africa) and Dr. Stephan A. Pietsch (Austria). More information.

The event was sponsored by the REDD-PAC project and is part of the IIASA Tropical Flagship Initiative.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Nexus blog, nor of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Interview: Women, education, and leadership in Africa

Lanoi Maloiy is a PhD student at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, and a participant in the recently completed 2013-14 Southern African Young Scientists Summer Program (SA-YSSP), which IIASA co-organizes with the South African National Research Foundation and Department of Science and Technology at the University of the Free State in South Africa. In this interview Maloiy talks about her research and her experience in the program.

Lanoi Maloiy

Lanoi Maloiy Photo Credit: Stephen Collett 

Why did you apply for the SA-YSSP?
I applied for the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Program because I envisioned the program would assist my research, especially regarding ways to improve the quality of life for Africans.

I’m from Nairobi, Kenya and from the Maasai tribe. Coming from Africa, I am passionate about improving the quality of life for all of the continent’s citizens.  The Maasai are a culture that traditionally didn’t often value sending girls to school, but my parents really stressed the importance of education.

I have seen very clearly in my own life how having access to education makes a difference, and how it really presents a limitation for those who don’t have access to education. Especially for girls, not having that education really limits their options. This experience made me very passionate about education as a transformative tool. I believe that education is an important tool in eradicating poverty and eliminating oppression.

Please tell us about your project for the SA-YSSP.
My research for the SA-YSSP explores the educational experiences of Kenyan female political leaders evaluating the role of education in their leadership journey. I investigated social, cultural and historical issues regarding African women and education, including the leadership context in Africa. My doctoral work is an interdisciplinary study within the fields of gender, education, and African leadership. The study investigates the experiences of Kenyan female political leaders, and focuses on locating enablers or strategies to address the challenges women face while accessing leadership positions.

During the program I worked with IIASA population researcher Dr. Anne Goujon and my South African adviser Dr. Petronella Jonck.  Working with them gave my research a new social psychology perspective which really enriched my work, because I come from an education and a leadership standpoint, it broadened my research examining it from the perspective of social psychology, evaluating the interaction and dynamics of gender within society.

I believe that this study will be beneficial to policy makers, and leadership practitioners. More studies on women leaders in Africa are essential to provide a global account of the experiences of women in leadership.

What methods did you use to conduct your study?
I did largely a qualitative study analyzing face to face interviews with 18 women political leaders in Kenya, which I had conducted in 2013.  I went to where the women leaders were based, often to their constituencies or in parliament. The interviews included demographic questions, asking them about their education, qualifications, age, and marital status. Then the second half of the interview was more open ended, asking about their leadership journey, about their family background, educational background, and what factors enabled them, and factors that inhibited them, and in particular evaluating the role of education and personality. The last section of the interviews focused more on recommendations, asking their opinion on strategies that could be put into place to help women better access leadership positions. In particular, what African society could do better in terms of accommodating women, and also asking participants why it is important to have women take part in leadership, and how women leaders can enrich African society.

I will be submitting my report at the end of this month, and we plan to also submit a journal article on the work.

How has the program changed the way you think about or do research?
 The SA-YSSP has informed the way in which I communicate my research, ensuring simplicity and clarity, especially to interdisciplinary audiences. It has also equipped me as an early career researcher, with knowledge and skills to locate avenues for transforming and improving the lives of Africa’s citizens through research.

What was the best thing about the SA-YSSP?
The SA-YSSP programme was an exciting and capacity building process, which provided a rich experience for me as an early career researcher.  It afforded me with an invaluable learning experience. Attending lectures on writing scientific papers, systems analysis, including practical ‘hands on’ training in media communication enriched and extended my skills base. Interacting with a range of PhD students brought a new wealth of knowledge and provided a vibrant social experience. I truly appreciated the opportunity to contribute and engage in research life during the course of the summer program.

Where do you hope to go with your research career?
I have a strong desire to be part of research that transforms the lives of Africans, in particular through education and leadership development projects. I believe that attending the SA-YSSP has proved an important step towards my long-term goal of creating leadership development programs to improve the quality of life for Africans.

Lanoi Maloiy, right, with other participants in the 2013-14 Southern African Young Scientists Summer Program (SA-YSSP)

Lanoi Maloiy, right, with other participants in the 2013-14 Southern African Young Scientists Summer Program (SA-YSSP) Photo Credit: Rene Van Der Berg

Note: This article gives the views of the interviewee, and not the position of the Nexus blog, nor of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

REDD+: Cutting emissions, not trees, in the Congo Basin

By Aline Mosnier, IIASA Research Scholar

Aline Mosnier

Aline Mosnier

Deforestation and forest degradation contribute substantially to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in developing countries. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) Initiative, launched in 2008 by the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aims to help developing countries prevent such deforestation and degradation. It creates a mechanism that would provide financial compensation to developing countries that make efforts to address these problems. Some funding has started to flow to build REDD+ readiness plans and forest monitoring capacity. However, many methodological issues stand in the way of reaching agreements and attracting enough funding for the initiative to succeed.

One of the core ideas of REDD+ is that payments should be based on results. But particularly in Congo Basin countries, where I recently spent three weeks meeting with stakeholders and policymakers on REDD+ plans and goals, determining results is not an easy task.

How do we measure performance? First, we must agree on a benchmark to which the future efforts can be compared. The simplest benchmark is perhaps just to compare current efforts to the past: using past data has the advantage of being based on facts and consequently less prone to inflation. But for this to work, one has to believe that the past is the best predictor of the future.

The Congo Basin countries have a problem: they have high forest cover and low historical deforestation rates… but fast-growing needs.

Yaounde, Cameron. Photo credit:  Aline Mosnier.

Yaounde, Cameron. Photo credit: Aline Mosnier.

The low historical deforestation rates in the Congo Basin countries result from several factors. Some argue that conflicts, unfavorable investment climate, lack of infrastructure, and low levels of economic development have led to a “passive protection” of the forests. But the context is changing. Presidents of the Congo Basin countries have big plans–they want to become emerging countries within the next two decades–and they are looking for new opportunities. Foreign investment projects in mining, oil, agro-industrial plantations, and large-scale agriculture are now flourishing in the Congo Basin, and protected areas are under threat. Local communities could be threatened by expropriation and pollution from large scale projects, but at the same time these communities are also eager to see new employment opportunities.

What does this situation tell us about REDD for the Congo Basin? First, payments for living forests are necessary to avoid deforestation because this is the only way to convince developing countries that forests are valuable. These payments have to benefit both local communities who are living next to the forest, and governments who are making the decisions about large-scale conversion of forests.

Second, if payments are conditional to reduction compared to past deforestation, we can’t expect much from REDD in the Congo Basin countries. If payments are delivered based on lower future deforestation rates and are not underestimated compared to what could be foreseen according to countries development needs, the international community has a chance to make a change.

But this needs trust. Trying to quantify future emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is challenging and undoubtedly involves large uncertainties. However, by engaging with stakeholders to understand the local context while having independent funding, by building the models under the necessary scrutiny and scientific rigor, and by clearly communicating the results to the international community, scientists could play an important role in finding a fair deal to fight against future deforestation.

At IIASA, we are contributing to this objective under our REDD-PAC project by combining land use and systems analysis tools from IIASA, regional expertise of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil and the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) in the Congo Basin, and the experience of UNEP-WCMC on the multiple benefits of REDD+.

Aline Mosnier contributed to work that will be presented at a special session organized by UNEP-WCMC and IIASA at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) at the COP 19th in Warsaw, highlighting the role of land use change models in supporting landscape-scale planning. She recently returned from travels through the Congo Basin, where she met with stakeholders and policymakers.