south_sudan_children001
Africa in focus

Africa in the News: Exponential Population Growth in Africa Predicted and Fighting Renews in South Sudan

Amy Copley

Population of the African Continent Projected to Reach One Billion by 2050

On Tuesday, August 12, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released its Generation 2030/Africa Report, which indicates a major shift in the African continent’s and world’s demographic composition. Over the next four decades, it is estimated that over 40 percent of the world’s children and roughly 25 percent of the global population will be in Africa—up from 29 percent and 16 percent, respectively, today. The report states that this baby boom has been fueled by the continent’s already youthful population (the youngest in the world), high fertility rates and reductions in child mortality rates.

Specifically, East Africa and West Africa—with their particularly high fertility rates—will contribute most to the boom. Nigeria, the most populous African country with a population of 177 million, may account for as many as one in 10 births by 2050. The authors of the report state that the rapid population growth poses both a challenge and an opportunity to African leaders, noting, “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.”

Fighting Renews in South Sudan, Famine Looms and U.S. Pledges Emergency Aid

On Friday, the Sudan Tribune reported that fighting has renewed between President Salva Kiir’s South Sudan army (SPLA) and opposition leader Riek Machar’s rebel forces in Unity state. The Addis Ababa peace talks facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) between President Kiir and Mr. Machar have reached an impasse according to U.N. Security Council envoys. The president of the U.N. Security Council, Mark Lyall Grant, stated on Wednesday that “both [Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar] said they recognized there was no military solution to the crisis, but the two positions remain far apart.”

According to an agreement signed in May, both sides of the conflict were supposed to observe a cease-fire and work towards creating an interim government by August 10. However, since the signing of the agreement, negotiations have stalled and the truce was violated by both rebel and government groups, as cited in several reports. Human rights organizations have also documented war crimes and human rights abuses by both sides of the conflict. As both parties appear to be arming for renewed fighting, according to the U.N. Security Council, the U.N. warned on Tuesday that it would impose sanctions against them if they did not make progress toward peace. The U.S. and European Union have already imposed sanctions against three key military leaders of both parties to the conflict and support the additional U.N. sanctions.

Last week the U.N. issued a warning that a “man-made” famine in South Sudan looms as 1.1 million people are already suffering from emergency food shortages. On Tuesday, the U.S. committed $180 million to provide emergency food aid for victims of the impending famine, which is expected to arrive as early as December of this year. U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan Toby Lanzer has stated that humanitarian efforts to provide food and other assistance to civilians are being inhibited by fighting, the killing of aid workers and the obstruction of aid convoys.

Author

A

Amy Copley

Research Analyst and Project Coordinator - Africa Growth Initiative