Will Nigerian boom babies feed prosperity or entrench poverty?
(Reuters) – In the time it takes to read this article, Nigeria will have added 50 people to its population, or about 11,000 a day. While some see these new consumers feeding an engine of prosperity, others fear they will create a crisis of poverty and unrest.
By 2050, the global Population Reference Bureau (PRB) projects it will be the world’s fourth most populous country, with 400 million people – just less than the projected figure for the United States, but with only a tenth of its territory.
While Africa’s most populous nation has long had business leaders salivating over its potentially huge market, especially retailers of fast-moving consumer goods, it is not clear whether it can turn a growing population – already at 170 million – into a richer society with widespread higher living standards.
Nigeria is often used by promoters of an “Africa Rising” narrative urging investors to buy into the continent’s potential to reap a “demographic dividend” from an expanding population of young people of working age.
Yet in the waterside slum of Makoko, where 100,000 residents huddle together in homes on stilts that spill right out into the Lagos Lagoon, few feel on the verge of prosperity.
“We’re poor, and not much is changing,” said Benedicta Hunkpe, as she stirred a cauldron of fish stew over smoking charcoal while children swept along the water in canoes.
Demographers fear a crisis of poverty and social upheaval could offset gains from the birth of new consumers.
The 3,000 naira ($19) a week that the 55-year-old Hunkpe earns from selling fish helps feed her eight offspring and 10 grandchildren; her house sleeps 40 people at a time.
“The money is never enough,” she said. “I wanted my children to go to school to give them a better life, but I couldn’t afford it.”
To read the full article, please click here: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/09/us-africa-summit-population-idUKBRE9380DH20130409
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