Fact Check

Africa’s Population 2021

The population of Africa has grown rapidly over the past century and consequently shows a large youth bulge, further reinforced by a low life expectancy of below 50 years in some African countries

Total population as of 2021 is estimated at more than 1.360 billion, with a growth rate of more than 2.5% p.a. The total fertility rate (births per woman) for Sub-Saharan Africa is 4.7 as of 2018, the highest in the world according to the World Bank. The most populous African country is Nigeria with over 206 million inhabitants as of 2020 and a growth rate of 2.6% p.a.

Summary

  • The current population of Africa is 1,365,646,709 as of Thursday, April 15, 2021, based on the latest United Nations estimates. This accounts for a 2.45% increase from 2020.
  • Africa population is equivalent to 16.72% of the total world population.
  • Africa ranks number 2 among regions of the world (roughly equivalent to “continents”), ordered by population.
  • The population density in Africa is 45 per Km2 (117 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 29,648,481 Km2 (11,447,338 sq. miles)
  • 43.8 % of the population is urban (587,737,793 people in 2019)
  • The median age in Africa is 19.7years.

Subregions in Africa

Area Population (2020)
Eastern Africa (445,405,606)
Western Africa (401,861,254)
Northern Africa (246,232,518)
Middle Africa (179,595,134)
Southern Africa (67,503,635)

The population of Africa has grown rapidly over the past century and consequently shows a large youth bulge, further reinforced by a low life expectancy of below 50 years in some African countries. Total population as of 2021 is estimated at more than 1.360 billion, with a growth rate of more than 2.5% p.a.

The total fertility rate (births per woman) for Sub-Saharan Africa is 4.7 as of 2018, the highest in the world according to the World Bank. The most populous African country is Nigeria with over 206 million inhabitants as of 2020 and a growth rate of 2.6% p.a.

Population growth in Africa

Most African countries have annual population growth rates above 2%. The population of Africa was 177 million in 1950, and it grew 7.6 times to more than 1.341 billion in 2020.

The increase in population is explosive, with a population under the age of 14 in the exponential growth phase, a difference from almost the rest of the world, which is already in balance (USA 1966, Europe 1969, Mexico 1990, Latin America 2000, India 2009, Asia 1977).

As of 2019, the total population of Africa is estimated at 1.3 billion, representing 16 of the world’s population.[10] According to UN estimates, the population of Africa may reach 2.49 billion by 2050 (about 26% of the world’s total) and 4.28 billion by 2100 (about 39% of the world’s total).

The number of babies born in Africa compared to the rest of the world is expected to reach approximately 37% in the year 2050.

The population of Africa first surpassed one billion in 2009, with a doubling time of 27 years (growth rate 2.6% p.a.)

Population growth has continued at almost the same pace, and total population is expected to surpass 2 billion by 2038 (doubling time 29 years, 2.4% p.a.)

The reason for the uncontrolled population growth since the mid 20th century is the decrease of infant mortality and general increase of life expectancy without a corresponding reduction in fertility rate, due to a very limited use of contraceptives.

Further factors generally associated with decreased fertility include wealth, education, and female labor participation. Uncontrolled population growth threatens to overwhelm infrastructure development and crippling economic development. Kenya and Zambia are pursuing programs to promote family planning in an attempt to curb growth rates.

The extreme population growth in Africa is driven by East Africa, Middle Africa and West Africa, which regions are projected to more than quintuple their populations over the 21st century.

The most extreme of these is Middle Africa, with an estimated population increase by 681%, from less than 100 million in 2000 to more than 750 million in 2100 (almost half of this figure is driven by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, projected to increase from 47 million in 2000 to 362 million in 2100).

Projected population growth is less extreme in Southern Africa and North Africa, which are expected, respectively, to not quite double and triple their populations over the same period.

 

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