ATa press conference during the last G20 summit, Emmanuel Macron said, as a response to question about Africa’s development problems, that even if you spend billions of euros,  you will not be able to stabilize anything “when countries still have seven to eight children per woman”.

It is not a secret that Africa is the fastest growing world region when it comes to the population. Between 2015 and 2050, the population of Africa will more than double, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion people, according to the latest UN projections (medium scenario). During the Citizens’ Dialogue with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, in Maastricht (8.12.2016), I had the chance to ask him about the migration crisis. He said: “Migration issues will stay with us for a generation or two…just look at the demographic developments in Africa.”

Africa’s Demographic Transition and Europe – dividend or an economic burden?

The Sub-Saharan Africa is envisaged in the words of these leading European politicians as the main concern. Austrian Military Magazine (OeMZ), analyses the South Saharan-Zone in Africa (SAHEL) and concludes that due to a population explosion, limited resources, and religious extremism, a push for mass migration is increasingly likely.

The working age population in the Sub-Saharan Africa (ages 15–64) is projected to triple to 1.25 billion. Nigeria will probably reach around 387 million people (191 million in 2017) by 2050, overtaking the United States of America. According to the IMF, for economic growth to match population growth, Sub-Saharan Africa would have to create 18 million jobs per year.

 

On the other side of the demographic spectrum is the European demographic decline and boosted westward migration. Eastern European countries struggle with the harshest demographic crisis in its history. Romania will lose 22% of its population by 2050, followed by Moldova (20%), Latvia (19%), Lithuania (17%), Croatia (16%) and Hungary (16%). Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine are the countries where the population decline will be most severe. Bulgaria will have the fastest population decline in the world between 2015 and 2050.

It seems inevitable that when two regions with absolutely different demographic and economic profiles are close to each other, that there will be ongoing migration. However, Europe must help Africa with its expertise in implementing several policy decisions. 1. Focus on private sector development. This will increase the non-agricultural jobs.

  1. Supporting stronger trade ties between Europe and Africa.
  2. Enhanced infrastructure by fostering public procurements.
  3. Putting in place viable pension schemes – people will feel safe for their future.
  4. Investing in the education of the young people – this will bring more girls to the schools and the labour market. The fertility rate will be normalized which will allow more stable growth.

Thus, social tensions and radical parties in Europe will be avoided and both continents will live peacefully.

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