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In a perfect world, where access to technology and the wealth are equally distributed, the GDP of each country would be proportional to its population. In the real world that relationship exists on average (see the dot charts below) but with significant deviations from the trend. Many developed countries, being relatively less populous than their developing counterparts, have high levels of GDP, while the GDPs of less-developed countries, especially in Africa, are disproportionally low.

  • According to the UN DESA baseline scenario, by the year 2100 Africa will become the world's most populous region, accounting for 40 percent of the global population and replacing Asia as the key driver of global population growth.
  • More than half of global population growth between 2015 and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa, and after 2050 Africa is projected to be the only major world region with a continually growing population.
  • Nigeria is expected to remain the most populous African country, reaching 794 billion in 2100, according to projections by the UN. The Democratic Republic of the Congo - one of the world's poorest countries - is expected to become the second most populous African country.

Will the enormous population growth in African countries strengthen their economies and the wealth of their citizens, or will this growth only give rise to even greater poverty? "The answer depends on how each country responds today with policies" - the World Bank, October 2015.

Sources: World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO), October 2015, Barro and Lee Long-term Educational Attainment by Country (1870-2040)

Overview      Africa in Focus:  Population Prospects     Population Density     Demographics     GDP per capita     Education

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