1. World Population Registers 5.6 billion
2. African Population Reaches 628 Million
3. Africa Leads In Rapid Urbanization
4. OAU and UNFPA Conclude Agreement
5. Seminar for the Resident Diplomats
6. OAU Population Commission
7. Third African Population Conference Devices
A New Strategy
8. New Strategy For Population Education
9. AIDS Pandemic Threatens Africa
10. External Debt Aggravates Africa's Economic Crisis
11. Population, Democratization And Development in Africa
12. National Population Commissions in Africa
The continent of Africa is characterized by the highest demographic rates. In particular, with 3% per annum, it has the highest population growth rate in the world. Uncontrolled demographic trends impede socio-economic progress and political stability. In view of this, the Organization of African Unity has been showing keen interest in population issues since its inception in 1963. At present, it is finalizing preparations for the establishment of an African Population Commission, which will be responsible for raising population issues high on the OAU political agenda through the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
It is envisaged that this newsletter will furnish; from time to time, current information on population trends, social and economic indicators, developments in the area of population policy formulation and implementation, as well as problems and prospects of integrated population and development planning in the OAU Member States.
The aim of the newsletter is to keep Member-States abreast of the population issues in the region and promote collective strategies for their successful implementation. While this is just a maiden issue, consistent efforts will be made gradually to expand the scope and to improve the quality of the newsletter.
The total population of the world has reached 5.6 billion by mid-1993 and is likely to reach 8.5 billion in the year 2025. According to the estimates made by UNFPA, the number of people added each year is 93 million. This is expected to peak at about 98 million annually between 1995 and 2000.
A review of the regional distribution of the world population, shows that Asia has 59 per cent of world population, Latin America 9 per cent and Africa 12 per cent. Africa's share is projected to go up to 19 per cent by the year 2025, while proportions in the other regions remain about the same. It is to be recalled that the World Population Plan of Action at Bucharest in 1974 and the International Conference on Population held at Mexico City in 1984 note that demographic inertia leads to an increasing population for many decades to come. Past and present experiences attest to this fact as rapid population growth remains to be the dominant global demographic feature.
The consequences of unchecked population dynamics are multi- dimensional. Large population sizes, rapid growth rates and unbalanced spatial distribution exacerbate the strains on the social situation, economic growth, the environment and the use of natural resources, particularly in developing countries as witnessed in the 1990s. As matters stand today, one billion people are living in absolute poverty, 800 million go hungry every day, 1.75 billion are without safe drinking water, almost one billion cannot read or write, 100 million children under the age of five (one in three) are undernourished and the natural environment has been seriously depleted.
It should be noted that the size of world population started to increase dramatically after man began to cultivate food through agriculture nearly 2000 years before Christ i.e 12,000 years ago. Thus, it grew from 5 million at 10,000 B.C. to 250 million at 1st A.D. From the 1st A.D. to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1750, the world population increased two-fold to 728 million. During the next 200 years (1750-1950), an additional 1.7 billion people were added to the total number. But in the last 40 years (1950-1990) world population grew more than two-fold, bringing the total figure at the beginning of the 1990s to almost 5.3 billion.
In terms of percentage growth rates, the world population grew at an annual rate not much greater than zero (ie, 0.002% or 20 per million) for almost the whole of human kind's existence on earth until approximately 300 years ago. Naturally, this overall rate has not been steady; there were many ups and downs in the earth's numbers as a result of natural catastrophies and variations in growth rates among regions. By 1750, the population growth rate had accelerated by 150 times from 0.002 to 0.3% per year. By 1950s, the rate had again accelerated, this time by threefold to about 1.0% per year. It continued to accelerate into the 1970s when it peaked at a 2.3% level. Today, the world's population growth rate stands at 1.7% per year.
The high growth rate of the world population will remain intact for years to come unless appropriate population policies are adopted and demographic factors are integrated into development planning. In particular, it is necessary to expand the scope of development planning in order to consider a broad range of linkages between population and socio-economic variables in the planning process. Furthermore, relentless efforts should be made to reduce fertility rate by 50 per cent through raising the economic role and social status of women, improving the health status of human beings in general and the women and children in particular as well as through increasing the prevalence of contraceptives and intensifying sensitization activities at all levels. If the actions are taken now as required by specific national conditions, the future of humanity can be bright and promising indeed!
The population of Africa has reached 682 million as of mid 1992 and is expected to be 856 million in the year 2000 and 1.6 billion in 2025.
Various sources put the population of Africa at 120 million in 1900 and 136 million in 1920. Likewise, it was about 164 million in 1930 and 222 million in the year 1950. Between 1950 and 1970, it grew by 113 million to be 345 million. By 1985 it was about 557 million showing an increase of 212 million in a matter of 15 years. After 5 years, it crossed the 600 million mark and registered 642 million in 1990.
Africa is characterized by the highest population growth rate which is around 3.0% per annum at present. It should be noted that the rapid growth rate is caused by the high birth rate (44 per 1000) and the high but declining mortality (13 per 1000).
The high population growth rate and the rapid urbanization are reported to have been impeding development in Africa. These demographic variables coupled with population size, have retarded the revitalization of economic growth and social development in the region. Specially, heavy burdens have fallen on health and educational services; the size of unemployed manpower has grown; and the depletion of soil and forest resources have exacerbated at a much faster rate. In view of this, UNFPA has been assisting African countries in their efforts to devise appropriate population policies and integrate population components into their development plans
Although Africa is the least urbanized continent, it has the highest urban growth rate in the world. Latest estimates and projections show that 34 per cent of the total population of Africa live in urban centres and that Africa's urban population grows at 5.3 per cent per annum. The levels of urbanization in Europe and Lating America are 73 per cent and 72 per cent respectively. As regards urban growth rates, Asia, Latin America and Europe have 3.3 per cent, 2.7 per cent and 1 per cent per year respectively.
The high growth rate of African cities is usually attributed to the high natural increase and the rural-urban exodus of unskilled and semiskilled people. Various projections indicate that 42 per cent of the total population or 350 million persons will live in urban centres by the end of this century.
If we exclude South Africa from the Southern Sub-region, the Northern Sub-region, with 45 per cent level of urbanization is the most urbanized in Africa, due to the fact that many of the cities in the sub-region had been the centres of trade and civilization long before the exploration of the rest of Afria. Central Africa and Western Africa hold the second rank with 38 per cent and 33 per cent of their population living in urban centres. The least urbanized sub-region is Eastern Africa with 22 per cent aggregate proportion of urban population.
Africa's urban population is concentrated mostly in few cities. For instance, Conakry in Guinea, Tripoli in Libya and Luanda in Angola, accomodate in order of their presentation 76 per cent and 63 per cent of the total urban population in their respective countries. Such concentrations of people in one or two metropolitan cities lead to the birth of slum areas and places heavy burden on social and economic services.
According to the UN 1992 Urban Agglomeration Chart there are twenty two cities in Africa excluding South Africa which have more than one million population each, out of which ten accomodate over two million population each. (See the following chart).
A cooperation agreement was signed in New York between the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) on 5th October 1992 to provide a framework of collaboration between the two Organizations in promoting population action programmes in the OAU Member States. The document was signed by Mr. Salim Ahmed Salim, the Secretary General of OAU and Dr. Nafis Sadik, the Executive Director of UNFPA.
The agreement calls on UNFPA to provide financial and technial support to OAU efforts to promote the integration of population issues within the development plans, strategies and policies of its Member States. On its part, the OAU will provide Political support to strengthen population programmes among Member States and will establish an OAU Population Commission in charge of coordinating, monitoring and evaluating of population activities in the region.
The accord acknowledges the important catalytic and advocacy role the OAU is playing in promoting population and development activities among its Member States and both parties agree to participate in meetings/conferences of mutual interest as may be convened by either party.
Furthermore, the agreement calls upon both institutions to inform OAU Member States about the OAU/UNFPA Population Project and to assess the needs to review the existing population programmes as well as to have in mind future population activities in which OAU and UNFPA can be associated.
The OAU Secretariat is endeavouring to assist Member States to integrate population variables into their development plans, as there is an increasing concern about the impact of rapid population growth on socio-economic development
Mr. Lamine N'Diaye, Director of Africa Division at the UNFPA Headquarters, New York, was recently briefed on the process and progress of the OAU/UNFPA Population Project. The briefing was given at the OAU Headoffice in Addis Ababa on 31st March 1993.
After welcoming the UNFPA official to the OAU Secretariat, Mr. A.M.A. Dirar, Director of Economic Development and Cooperation (EDECO), thanked UNFPA for the fruitful cooperation and partnership it has had with the OAU in the field of population and said that the joint Population and Development Project has strengthened the basic institutional capability of the OAU Secretariat.
Dr. O. Aseto, Head of Economic Research, Planning and Population Division of OAU, who took the floor next, re-affirmed that satisfactory works have been accomplished under the project.
Mr. N'Diaye, on his part, told his OAU counterparts, that he was very much impressed by the progress of the project and advised the latter to exchange information with other relevant agencies operating in Africa to avoid duplication of activities in the field of population.
Mr. N'Diaye was accompanied by Dr. Rogelio Fernandez-Castilla, UNFPA Country Director to Ethiopia and Liaison Officer with OAU
In addition to providing financial support for population programmes, UNFPA has begun deploying population expert teams to the various sub-regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The mobile expert groups are called Country Support Teams (CST). They are based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dakar, Senegal and Harare, Zimbabwe. The teams were established to provide technical advisory services to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa is covered by the CST based in Amman, Jordan
Three Pan-Africa organizations and the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) have agreed to cooperate in promoting population issues and devising a common strategy in order to accelerate socio- economic development in Africa. The concerned Pan-African bodies are the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (ADB). Accordingly, a meeting involving representatives of OAU, ECA, ADB and UNFPA was held at the OAU Headquarters on 8th April 1993 at the initiative of OAU.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and come to an understanding, among the concerned institutions, about the respective roles which each one of them could play in the field of population in Africa; and to ensure that the roles of these organization are complimentary and mutually reinforcing, rather than duplicative and competitive.
The meeting was conducted in a friendly and cooperative manner. It recognized the catalytic role of OAU in providing political support for the formulation and implementation of population action programmes in Africa. It also acknowledged the technical capability of ECA in the field of population and UNFPA's interest to provide financial and technical support. Similarly, the meeting recognized the financial muscle and the complementary role of ADB in the promotion and implementation of population activities in the Member States.
After exchanging views the participants concluded their meeting by establishing a Tripartite Inter-Secretariat Committee involving the representatives of OAU, ECA and ADB. They also agreed to exchange information and to work closely in the field of population and development in Africa. Moreover, all representatives welcomed and endorsed the idea of establishing an African Population Commission and jointly holding a one-day seminar on population and development policy in Africa for African Ambassadors residing in Addis Ababa. To this effect, the representatives agreed to set up a small Task Force to devise follow-up mechanisms for the implementation of the recommendations of the Third African Population Conference and to undertake preparatory activities for holding the population seminar as well as to convene the first meeting of the African Population Commission.
The Tripartite Inter-Secretariat Committee for Population is an extension of the Joint OAU/ECA/ADB Secretariat. It is expected that it would accelerate the formulation, and implementation of appropriate population policies in African countries
A one day seminar on population has been planned for the Representatives of Diplomatic Missions and International organizations residing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The aim of the seminar is to increase the awareness of the Diplomats on population issues.
The seminar is organized by OAU in cooperation with ECA, ADB and UNFPA which will present different papers in areas of their competence. While the exact date and venue is to be declared soon, it is however expected to take place in September 1993.
According to preliminary studies, about 200 persons from the Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations will participate in the seminar.
The seminar is a part of the joint efforts of the institutions concerned to sensitize different sectors of African societies on population matters
The OAU Population Commission is to be established before the end of 1993 as a permanent institution of the Organization of African Unity. The OAU Secretariat will convene the first meeting at which national population councils/commissions of the Member States will be represented at the highest level.
When the Population Commission becomes operational, it is expected to initiate and raise policy guidelines and resolutions on population and development high on the political agenda for adoption by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government and subsequent implementation in the Member States. The Population and Development Section within the Economic Development and Cooperation Department of the OAU Secretariat will act as the Secretariat of the Commission.
It is to be recalled that the establishment of the OAU Population Commission was endorsed by the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government
The Third African Population Conference was convened in Dakar, Senegal from 7 to 12 December 1992 on theme "Population, Family and Sustainable Development." Apart from the UN agencies, NGOs and IGOs, 50 OAU Member States were represented by their officials responsible for population matters.
The purpose of the meeting was to review the implementation of the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action (KPA) which, inter alia, was aimed at accelerating self-reliant, social and economic development for the well-being of African peoples and devise a new strategy that focuses on the family within the framework of KPA. Accordingly, UNFPA and ECA assessment documents and private research papers, as well as country reports were presented and examined. Subsequently, the Conference noted that about 23 Member States have adopted and integrated population policies into their development plans. The Conference noted some of the contributing factors to the limited successes of integration, which include political commitment, high literacy rate, efficient communication systems, high rate of community involvement, the private sector and non-governmental organizations; effective coordination of programmes, collaboration with international organizations; effective coordination of programmes, collaboration with international organizations; and sufficient funding.
On the other hand, the Conference acknowledged that the implementation of KPA and the regional demographic trends are far from being satisfactory. It was reported that lack and/or limited awareness on the impact of unlimited population growth, internal conflicts and civil strife, the negative impact of structural adjustment programmes; and lack of financial resources were some of the main problems that had hampered the adoption of appropriate population programmes in the region.
Before winding up its deliberations the Conference adopted a declaration known as Ngor Declaration, which recognizes the primacy of the family for social investment considerations. In addition, the Conference passed a resolution, which among other things, requests African Governments to use the declaration as a reference document to ensure adequate consideration of the priority interests of Africa in population activities and called upon donor countries to increase the resources they provide to the UNFPA for its work in Africa, particularly for its endeavours to implement the Declaration.
The Organization of African Unity was represented at the
Conference by a three man-strong delegation headed by Mr. A.M.A.
Dirar, Director of Economic Development and Cooperation Department
All round preparations are underway for the Third World Population Conference on Population and Development due to take place in Cairo, Egypt in September 1994. Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund has been named in addition to her regular responsibilities the Secretary General of the Conference. The Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt has offered to host the Conference.
It is expected that the Conference will review the implementation of the World Plan of Action over the last twenty years and devise a new strategy within the context of the new emerging demographic and environmental problems.
Regional and global meetings, leading to the Conference, have been held consecutively. The Third African Population Conference, 7-10 December 1992, and the First International Congress on Population Education and Development, 14-17 April 1993, are some of the preparatory activities
The Transitional Government of Ethiopia has adopted a comprehensive national population policy as an integral part of the all out efforts to accelerate economic development in the country with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life of its citizens. The official launching of the national population policy was made at a public gathering marking the 1993 World Population Day. Prime Minister Tamirat Layine, presided over the ceremony.
The main objective of the national population policy is to create harmony between population dynamics and the supporting capacity of the national economy by reducing fertility rate creating a fair spatial distribution of population and improving the economic role and social status of women.
The implementation of the policy will be overseen by a National Population Council, comprising the representatives of the various institutions that are interested in population matters. There are also plans to establish regional population councils to ensure the implementation of the population programme at grassroot levels. On the other hand, it has been noted that an Office of Population will be set up in the Office of the Prime Minister to serve as the Secretariat of the National Population Council.
With a total population of about 53 million (1993), Ethiopia is the second populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Official projections indicate that at the current rate of growth (3.1%), the population will double in about 22 years and reach 106.8 million by the year 2015
About 30 African countries have introduced population education in their school curriculums. The list of these countries includes Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. UNFPA is supporting these countries in their population education.
Population education has gradually gained acceptance and implemented in Africa, particularly after the 1974 Bucharest World Population Conference which adopted the World Plan of Action that foresaw the need to develop population education. The programme has developed in different ways taking into account specific population problems including the socio-cultural setting of the different societies in general. However, a lot still needs to be done in terms of its conceptualization, consolidation, institutionalization and its expansion to encompass all levels of formal and non-formal education.
The major obstacles to the development of population education in Africa are lack of commitment on the part of political leaders, religious and cultural resistance, shortage of skilled manpower and teaching materials, lack of enough budget and institutional framework.
The importance of population is gaining momentum from time to time. Accordingly, UNESCO and UNFPA recently organized jointly the First International Congress on Population Education and Development in Istanbul, Turkey from 14-17th April 1993. After reviewing the evolution of population education during the last 20 years, the Congress adopted an action programme for the 1990s and beyond. Twenty nine African countries participated in the Congress
A new strategy aimed at strengthening population education world-wide has been designed to meet the needs of the UNESCO Member States. The strategy, known as, ACTION FRAMEWORK FOR POPULATION EDUCATION ON THE EVE OF THE 21ST CENTURY, was endorsed by the First International Congress on Population Education and Development (ICPED) which took place in Istanbul, Turkey from 14-17th April 1993. The framework of action recognizes the increasing importance of population education to improve the quality of life of human beings and covers various issues including :
1) policies, programming and institutional coordination;
2) conceptualization and contents at various levels of education;
3) strategies for the development of educational action;
4) logistic support activities; and
5) regional and international cooperation.
The ICPED was organized jointly by UNESCO and UNFPA to review the evolution of population education worldwide during the last two decades and to devise a framework of action for the 21st century. It was attended by delegations from 93 countries, Organization of African Unity (OAU), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB), Arab Organization for Education Culture and Science (ALESCO), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Johns Hopkins University and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
After hearing country reports and reviewing the works of the various commissions, the Congress also adopted a declaration, known as the Declaration of the Istanbul International Congress on Population Education and Development.
Addressing the meeting, Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of UNFPA, underlined the importance of increasing social investments (education, maternal and child health care, family planning services and services to improve the status of women) in view of the overgrowing world population and the need to attain sustained and sustainable development. Regarding awareness creation on population, Dr. Sadik said that efforts should be redoubled to improve and expand population education, in view of the fact that education has been found to be a key factor to reducing maternal and infant mortality and lowering fertility rates. To this effect, Dr. Sadik recommended that education curriculums should be updated and textbooks be revised.
On his part, Mr. Frederico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO, pointed out that the fundamental problem which should be addressed in order to master escalating population growth and its impact on resources, environment and development is improving access to basic education, especially for girls and women. Finally, Mr. Mayor called on the UNESCO Member States to institutionalize population education in the 1990s and beyond
The AIDS pandemic has become a serious health problem in Africa, with broad implications on the socio-economic development of the region. World Health Organization (WHO) reports indicate that as of mid-1992 more than 7 million people have been infected with the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. On the other hand, 1.2 million people have been reported dead from AIDS in the region. Globally, about 13 million men, women and children have been infected with the AIDS virus HIV from the start of the pandemic to January 1993.
A paper presented at the Symposium on AIDS and Development of the African Development Bank in Abidjan (March 4, 1993), suggests that if unchecked, AIDS may reduce the growth rate of population in Africa from about 3 per cent to over 2 per cent after 25 years. This means that the African population will continue to grow, although the time required for doubling may increase from 25 to 35 years. However, the total population of the continent will still have more than doubled from roughly 450 million in 1985 to 1.5 billion in 2020. Similarly, by the year 2000, an average Sub Saharan country's population will be 3.2 per cent smaller than in the absence of AIDS. If the spread of HIV continues at current rates, AIDS will create widespread damage in all sectors of African economies, including health care, education, social welfare, industry and agriculture. Thus, it will affect the already weakened economies of the region, leading to accelerated urban migration. AIDS is affecting mainly two groups of people young children, who acquire it from their mothers at birth, and economically productive young people, thus robbing countries of potential and able-bodied workers.
AIDS should not be left unchecked. African governments can help reduce the impact of AIDS through policies to prevent the disease and cope with its impact, based on the individual needs of their countries. Prevention programs include education about HIV, promotion of condoms and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) which increase a person's susceptibility to HIV infection. Policies to cope with the impact of AIDS should focus on low-cost means of caring for patients and providing counseling, social and legal services to patients and their families. Governments can also undertake research on the impact of AIDS as the basis for designing cost-effective programs
Africa is still languishing under the heavy and steadily increasing burden of external debt. According to various sources, Africa's external debt has increased from $ 7 billion in 1965, to $ 28 billion in 1974, to $ 152 billion in 1984 and to $ 203 billion in 1986. At present, it stands at over $ 290 billion, representing an increase from 54% of Africa's Gross Domestic Product in 1986 to over 110% in 1992. This deblitating debt is estimated to have cost Africa, an astronomical $ 27 billion to service in 1992 alone, which is equal to 32% of Africa's total exports. However, the average figure conceals considerable disparities among African States. For many countries, particularly the least developed countries, their ratios of debt service to export earnings are as high as 60 per cent. In the words of the Secretary General of OAU, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, the reverse flow of resources, has severely crippled the efforts of Africa at mobilizing domestic savings for investment. Most African countries are now faced with the unpleasant task of having to drastically reduce their imports of capital goods, thereby slowing down their rates of growth at a time when poverty, disease, illiteracy hunger and malnutrition need to be addressed.
Apart from external indebtedness, the following factors have done untold havoc to the economies of Africa:
a) the global economic recession and the collapse in commodity prices;
b) a stagnation and decline in official development assistance (ODA) in real terms;
c) the shift to a state of sharp fluctuations of exchange rates; and
d) the imposition of quotas as well as other protectionist policies including tariff barriers on agricultural products.
In view of the pressing problems, African leaders have increasingly expressed their concern. Specifically, the OAU Heads of State and Government held the Third Extraordinary Assembly in 1987, exclusively to discuss the African debt crisis. Finally, the Assembly adopted the African Common Position on Africa's External Debt Crisis, which outlined detailed measures to address the debt crisis on the basis of cooperation, continuous dialogue and shared responsibility on account of the interdependence between the debtor and creditor countries. Moreover, the Assembly established a Contact Group on Debt, charged with the responsibility of assessing the situation and making appropriate recommendations.
The continent of Africa experiences severe soil erosion in the world. It is reported that about 18 billion tons of top soil are lost each year and that sand dunes are advancing at an alarming speed.
Erosion is most severe in Ethiopia. Latest studies show that about 3.5 billion tons of superficial soil are carried away by the torrential rain run-offs. This represents an average of 70 tons per hectare of land and 100 tons per hectare of cultivated land.
In a similar development, in Madagascar, in the highlands alone, between 12 to 14 million tons of soil are carried away each year. According to the World Bank and other sources, erosion rates are between 25 to 200 tons per hectare per year. This has made 50 per cent of the irrigation networks unusable for intensive rice growing.
In West Africa, 30 to 55 tons of soil per hectare are lost on 1 to 2 per cent of the total land area. In some areas of Cote d'Ivoire, the rate reaches even upto 500 tons of soil per hectare per year.
Unchecked erosion results in the exhaustion of soil and the development of deep gullies on the surface of the land. Such affected areas are usually classified as degradated lands, most of which are located in North Africa (Egypt and Tunisia mostly), in the Islands of Madagascar and Cape Verde, all along the Sahelian Zone stretch from west to east, southern Nigeria, the coastal lowlands of Southern Africa and the highlands of East Africa.
Soil erosion is caused by deforestation, rudimentary agricultural practices, torrential rainfalls as well as violent and dry winds. Soil erosion reduces the carrying capacity of land. Thus, it is a matter of great concern in view of the increasing population pressure in Africa.
Although subtantial improvement was registered in health in Africa during the 1950s and 1960s, the progress started slowing down after the 1970s due to the prevailing economic crisis which has been exacerbated by the Orthodox Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), political and social instability, population growth and environmental degradation: At present, the crude death rate of population in Africa is 15 per thousand per annum as compared to 7 and 9 in Latin America and Asia respectively. Infant mortality rate is about 103 per thousand as opposed to 53 and 69 in Latin America and Asia respectively. As many as 40 per cent of children born in Africa do not survive to their fith year. Consequently, the registered life expectancy for an African at birth is 52 years.
The two most important social groups that have become the major victims of death in Africa are children and women. It is reported that the principal causes of child death include low birth weight, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Women are particularly affected by lack of proper nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, too many and too closely spaced births, as well as the lack of prenatal care and access to health facilities during childbirth.
Sexually transmitted diseases have also become a source of increasing concern in Africa, particularly with the emergence of HIV/AIDS pandemic. Latest WHO compilations show that as of mid-1992 more than 7 million people have been infected with HIV.
Public spendings both in health care and education are very low. According to the 1991 report of the World Bank, the share of health in Sub-Saharan Africa was 4.9 per cent of the total public expenditure in 1985. In terms of gross domestic product, it was only 1.2 per cent.
Africa's greatest wealth lies in its people and land. African governments are therefore expected to improve the health status of their population by increasing public spending in health.
Fundamental changes are taking place in Africa. These changes embrace political, economic, social, cultural and technological areas. While some of these changes emanate from outside, much of it is inspired from within. The result of these developments is that the continent has found itself in a state of flux, containing within itself good seeds and bad ones.
Some basic elements of the fundamental developments are easily discernible. In the political arena, 1990s has been dubbed the age of democratization whose components include multi-party democracy, good governance, transparency and accountability. In July 1990, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU accepted the principle of democratization for Africa, and since then multi-party political systems are fast replacing the one-party state systems all over the continent. At the moment, multi-party elections to political offices are taking place in different corners of Africa, and many more are planned to come.
However, the attainment of true and genuine democracy in Africa has not been easy. Racial, tribal, ethnic and even clan considerations have dominated the scene. In fact, in practically all African countries, there has been a resurgence of "tribal" or "ethnic" feeling among the people, with each group vying for the leadership of the country. It appears that the feeling of "nationalism" which has been projected since independence has been somewhat reduced in favour of group identity.
In the field of economic development, there have been similar fundamental changes. For the last thirty years of independence, African countries have made tremendous efforts to promote their economic progress, and with a laudable degree of success, particularly in the field of human resources development.
Despite these efforts, the African countries are experiencing difficult economic and social problems, much of which is not of their own making. Most of the economic malaise now affecting Africa have their roots in the inherited colonial economic structure. Efforts to transform this structure and to establish a system which would be amenable and to cater to the African needs have not been successful. Instead, more than 30 African countries have embarked on Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) which are encouraged and supported by the Bretton Woods institutions. Any positive results of these SAPs are yet to be seen; but in practically all African countries, these programs have been the main immediate source of political upheavals, unemployment, inflation and the deterioration of social services such as medical and education facilities.
While African countries have been undertaking SAPs, there has been a tremendous concern with the population issue in Africa. Many observers have pointed out that rapid population growth will retard the desired economic development because the national resources will be diverted away from investment and capital acculumation to feeding, clothing, housing and educating the disproportionately higher percentage of the youthful population which is unproductive. They also point out to the problem of creating employment opportunities for these people when they become of age. Indeed, many observers believe that Africa is faced with a "population bomb" - a situation in which there is a growing number of poor, ill-fed, ill-clothed, and ill-educated masses who will be drifting into towns and cities to look for non-existent jobs. They foresee urban riots, crimes and misery ahead for African countries, unless immediate steps are taken to curb population explosion.
With the above-mentioned issues in mind, the following questions need to be explored:
(a) The potential divergence between the national population policy and the ethnic or tribal population policy: The former may call for a reduction in the rate of population growth, while the latter may call for an increase in that rate because of political reasons. What should be the population policy then?
(b) Population censuses have become more political. In recent years, several censuses have been carried out in a number of African countries, but the results have not been released, while others have been nullified, largely because the results did not meet the needs of the politicians in power. Under these circumstances, how can African countries conduct free and fair censuses ? It should be noted that, at the present time, the population data of African countries leave a lot to be desired; nobody knows the proximate population figures for African countries. For example, in a study undertaken by the OAU, it was found that in most African countries, the population figures presented in various official publications vary a great deal, with some by as many as 8 million people in an estimate for 1990. How should censuses be de-politicized in the face of political imperatives which call for more and larger population?
(c) Development policies are based on data, especially population estimates data. This is because the development variables are expressed in terms of the number of people involved either as producers, consumers, or voters. With the population data themselves being questionable, what kind of strategy should be developed regarding population and development policy for African countries ?
Solutions to the foregoing problems need exchange of information, consultation and devising an appropriate strategy which should be implemented within the context of the socio- cultural and political settings of the OAU Member States.
By Dr. Oyugi Aseto,
Head of Economic
Research, Planning and
Population Division, OAU.
The problems posed by the rapid population growth leave Africa with no option but to pursue population policies which ensure a balance between population growth and socio-economic development. (Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, OAU Secretary General).
Moderate population growth would make for improved well-being and allow the minimum needs of all family members to be met (Layashi Yaker, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA).
Successful development depends among other things on resolving population issues (Dr. Nafis Sadik, UNFPA Executive Director).
Degradation of the world's environment income inequality, and the potential for conflict exist today because of over-consumption and over-population (Statement on Population Stabilization by World Leaders).
Appropriate machinery should be established, where necessary, to ensure greater integration of population variables in development planning, bearing in mind the expected doubling of the African population between 1975 and 2000 and the impact of this on economic planning and development (Lagos Plan of Action).
The fundamental problem that has to be addressed if escalating population growth is to be mastered is that of improving access to basic education" (Frederico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO).
Population education is an essential factor of sustainable development. (Declaration of the Istanbul International Congress on Population Education and Development)
Space births two or more years apart.
Avoid early, too late, too close and too many pregnancies.
The sovereign right of countries to determine their own population policies and programmes and the fundamental right of individuals and couples to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children must be respected.
Safe motherhood means:
* improved socio-economic and political status for girls and women.
* appropriate family planning services for all.
* high quality pre-natal and delivery care for all women.
* skilled obstetric care for high-risk and emergency cases
1. Institut de Formation et de
Recherche Demographiques (IFORD)
Yaounde - Cameroun
2. Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS)
University of Ghana
Legon - Accra
3. Cairo Demographic Centre (CDC)
2 Lebanon Street
Cairo - Egypt
4. Centre for African Family Studies (CAFS)
Nairobi - Kenya.
Conseil National de Planification
Chemin IBN BADISEL MOUIZ
EL BIAR, ALGER
Ministere de la Sante et de la Population
126, Chemin Mohamed
GACEM EL MOURADIA, ALGER
Plan Departement d'Etudes de Population et Condition de Vie
Commission Nationale des Ressources Humaines et
de la Population
Ministere du Plan et de
la Restructuration Economique
Private Bag 008
5. BURKINA-FASO/BURKINA FASO
Unite de Population Ministere du Plan et dela
Tel. (226) 31-10-60
Direction de la Population
Ministere de l'Interieur et du Developpement des Collectivites Locales
Tel. (257) 040-23-56
Commission Nationale de la Population
Ministere du Plan et de l'Amenagement du Territoire
8. CAP-VERT/CAPE VERDE
Comite Interministeriel sur la Population Ministere des
Finance et du Plan
B.P. 30, PRAIA
Telex: 6058 MCE CV
9. CENTRAFRIQUE/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Ministere de l'Economie,
du Plan, des Statistiques et de la Cooperation
Tel. (236) 613805/00
Telex: 5208 RC
Fax: (276) 614711
Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la
Ministere de la Sante,
de la Population et des Affaires Sociales
12. COTE D'IVOIRE/COTE D'IVOIRE
1) Sous Direction de la Planification et du Developpement
des Ressources Humaines
01 B.P. V. 236
TEL. (225) 22.45.46
des Etudes et Recherche Demographiques
Institut National de la Statistique
01 B.P. V. 55
Tel. (225) 33.18.86
Ministere de l'Interieur
Bureau Central de Recensement
National Population Council
Cornish el Nil Street
tel. (20-2) 36.38.00
1. National Scientific and Technological
Information and Documentation Centre
Tel. (2511) 15.53.06
Tel. (2511) 55.30.11
Commission Nationale de la Population
Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population
The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment
Central Bank Building
2. National Population Council
Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
Nationale de Population
Ministere du Plan et des Finances
20. GUINEE BISSAU/GUINEA BISSAU
Commission Interministerielle de Coordination pour les
Activites de Population
B.P. No. 6
Telex: 275. BI
21. GUINEE EQUATORIALE/EQUATORIAL GUINEA
Ministere de la Planification et Cooperation Internationale
National Council for Population and Development
Tel. (254) 29852, 29411
Ministry of Planning
Peoples' General Committee for Economic
Planning Department of
Statistics and Census
Fax: (281) 45337
Comite National Permanent de la Population
Ministere de la Population B.P. 764
The Commission for Census and
National Statistics Office
Tel. (265) 52.23.77
Fax: (265) 52.31.30
Direction Nationale de la Planification
Unite de Population
Direction des Ressources Humaines/Ministere du Plan
Telex: 5540 MTN
30. ILE MAURICE/MAURITIUS
1. Central Statistical Office
Sir S. Ramgoolam Street
Ministry of Health
Emmanuel Anquetil Building
Sir. S. Ramgoolam Street
Mr. Manuel Gaspar
Director Nacional-Adjunto de Estatistica
Comissá Nacional de Plano
Av. Ahmed Sekou Toure Nr.21
C.P. 493 - Maputo
Telex 6-650 CNP MO
Mr. Domingos Diego
Head of Statistics Dept.
Ministry of Agriculture
National Planning Commission
Private Bag 13289
Tel. (061) 2869111
Fax (061) 227572
Ministere du Developpement Social, de la Population et de
la Promotion de la Femme
National Population Commission
Bloc 33C, ZONE 3
P.M.B. 58 WUSE
Population Secretariat Ministry of Finance and Economic
36. CENTRAFRIQUE/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Ministere de l'Economie,
du Plan, des Statistiques et de la Cooperation
Tel. (236) 613805/00
Telex: 5208 RC
Fax: (276) 614711
Office National de la Population (ONAPO)
38. SAO TOME ET PRINCIPE/SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
Commission Nationale de Population
Ministere de l'Economie et de Finances
Sao Tome et Principe.
Commission Nationale sur la Population
Direction de la Planification
Ministere de l'Economie, des Finances et du Plan
Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs
41. SIERRA LEONE/SIERRA LEONE
National Population Commission Secretariat
Population and Human Ressources Section,
Central Planning Unit
Department of Finance,
Development and Economic Planning
6th Floor, Youyi Building,
National Population Council
Central Bureau of Statistics
Tel. (249) 71860
Central Statistical Office
Ministry of Health
The National Population Committee
Bureau Central du Recensement
Unite de Population
Direction General du Plan
Office National de la Famille et de la
42-44 Avenue Madrid
Tel. (216) 34.10.88
Telex: 15164 ONFEP
Comite National de Population
Secretariat General du Plan
National Commission for Development Planning
Department of Census of Population
Tel. (263) 706081/8