By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
NIGERIA’s high fertility rate and fast increasing population is receiving global attention yet again, following latest rankings by the Population Reference Bureau, PRB, showing that Nigeria is among eight countries with the greatest projected population increases between 2018 and 2050.
According to the report, labelled the 2018 World Population Data Sheet With focus on “Changing Age Structures”, Nigeria, currently the 7th most populous country will increase with a projected 214.7 million in population to 411 million by 2050.
The Nigerian population would overtake the population of the United States to become the 3rd most populous country.
The report also indicates global population is predicted to reach 9.9 billion by 2050, up 2.3 billion or 29 percent from an estimated 7.6 billion people currently, with Africa’s population accounting for 58 percent of the increase. In other words, 2.3 billion more people will be living on earth by 2050.
Reacting to the report, Lagos State Team Lead, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, NURHI 2, Dr. Edun Omasanjuwa said that any efforts put in place to grow Nigeria economy without adequate measures on population will be in futility.
Omasnjuwa regretted that Nigeria has not learnt any lesson from countries that had controlled there population to develop their economy.
“No matter how we try to develop our economy, if population is growing at this rate we will never get to a point where we will have enough to take care of our population. When China introduced one child policy, it wasn’t that they didn’t like children but because they realised that it will get to a stage there will be insufficiency and they won’t be able to feed their people.
“What other countries also do was to reduced fertility rate to a figure that is manageable in each household and community level to the extent that they have enough resources to care for the population.
“Unfortunately, Africa as a nation for some reasons has not bought into this idea, and I think in my own opinion it was due to African belief that everything promoted by Western world is one way or the other have negatively impacting on us.
“China is now the second largest economy in the world and in the next five to 10 years they will be the largest economy in the world. In the same time frame Nigeria will be the third most populous country in world, surpass America. Ironically, Nigeria economy is just coming out of recession.
“What we are preaching is family planning not family limiting. We are not saying people should put a cap on the number of children they wish to have, rather, we are saying people should only have children they can take care of.
“We are not preaching population reduction, if you think you can take care of 10 children, go ahead and have 10 but let it be the number of children you can adequately take care of, and have them at the appropriate time you need them.”
Edun explained that the benefits of child spacing for the family and the nation are immeasurable. “Family planning is key to unlocking sustainable development goals. It improves the nation’s health, social and economic indices.
“The benefits go beyond women and health because it has a long term benefit of breaking the cycle of poverty among families which transcends generations with a ripple effect across the new global development agenda.
“Family planning helps the father and mother to eliminate the fear of unintended pregnancy, reduces infant illness and death, and helps parents spend quality time with their children while planning for their future,” he explained.
Overall, the PRB’s World Population Data Sheet, WPDS, highlights showed that the population of 26 countries, nearly all in Africa, will at least double with Niger nearly tripling its population.
On changing age structures and their implications, the report showed that the world population will also continue to age, with variations by country. By midcentury, 16 percent of the world population will be aged 65 and older, up from 9 percent now.
The report added that the trend poses challenges for countries in balancing the pension, health, and other benefits that older adults typically receive with investments in the well-being of younger generations.
It noted that in addition, some countries may choose to incentivize older adults to remain in the work force longer.
The age structure data and analysis show that by 2050, 82 countries are projected to have at least 20 percent of their population ages 65 and over, up from 13 countries today.
“The population ages 65 and older in Northern Africa is projected to nearly quadruple by 2050.”
On total fertility rate, (TFR) it noted that at 2.4; the global TFR has been declining for the past few decades but remains high enough to generate continued population growth.
The report listed three countries with the highest TFRs to include Niger (7.2), Chad (6.4), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.3), while the lowest TFRs are in South Korea (1.1), Singapore (1.2), and Taiwan (1.2).