Nigeria and the Population Bomb
Nigeria’s population is growing too fast. The implications are scary. The United Nations, for the umpteenth time, last week raised alarm over what it perceives as population explosion in Nigeria. The global body states that Nigeria’s population is likely to hit 440 million by 2050, which would be 40 million more than the projection for the United States. It is further projected that at the present rate of growth, Nigeria would start competing with China as the second most populous nation by the end of the century with a projected 914 million citizens.
Ordinarily, population growth for any nation should be perceived as a great impetus for economic development; and in the case of a developing country like Nigerian, an impetus for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. This is because there is no country in the world today with a high population density which does not have a high rate of sustainable economic development. The 27 richest countries in the world with high population densities all have high income per capita, whereas the poorest countries in the world have low population density and low income per capita.
Specifically, with a population density of about 335 persons per square kilometre, Japan enjoys income per capita of US 34,313 dollars. Equally, the Chinese economy has been growing steadily in the last 15 years (in fact, it is the fastest growing economy in the world today), thanks to its population density. Countries like Singapore, Bangladesh, India and many Asian countries have also reaped enormous demographic dividends from their respective large populations in the last 30 years.
Given the foregoing, the young people who constitute the bulk of Nigerian population could indeed be a vibrant work force to galvanise our economic growth and development. To that extent, we do not believe the real problem is in the fact that our population is growing; the real challenge is that we can no longer feed ourselves and the relevant stakeholders are not paying attention to the education of our young population. That then explains the growing concerns about our population which, rather than being an asset, could actually become a hindrance to our development as a nation, if nothing is done either to control it or make it more productive.
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