Africa

A Partnership-Driven Process to Promote Entrepreneurship in Ghana

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In Ghana, about 80 percent of the working-age population is self-employed in an economy of improvisation and self-reliance where the quest to make a living is played out daily. The complexity of operating in the business environment — characterized sometimes as fetching water with a basket — has deterred many entrepreneurs from upgrading their business skills, raising capital and taking risks to grow.  read more »

MENA Economies: Trouble Ahead

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The economies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are ill prepared for the coming population boom.

War, terrorism, repression and poverty are all common features in much of today’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA). How are the region’s demographics changing in the next few decades? And what is the prognosis for improved living conditions?  read more »

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How Many People Will Live in Africa in 2050 and 2100?

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Large declines in fertility will depend on raising female literacy above 80%.

Every few years, the United Nations Population Division releases demographic projections for the entire world and for every country, region and continent. Although the UN’s database is the most used source on demographics, the data is not equally reliable for all countries.  read more »

Report: Africa’s Demographic Transition, Dividend or Disaster?

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A recent report published jointly by the World Bank and by Agence Française de Développement highlights the challenge of realizing Africa’s promised demographic dividend. The title Africa’s Demographic Transition: Dividend or Disaster? (see footnote 1) sums up the authors’ thesis that the dividend is not an automatic result of falling fertility ratios (TFR).

Instead, falling TFRs open a window of opportunity which can lead to a demographic dividend when governments and the public sector implement the requisite steps to capitalize on this opportunity. Lower child mortality usually leads to falling fertility ratios and improvements in women’s health. But most important among concurrent or subsequent initiatives are investments in education, and the provision of sufficient jobs to a booming working-age population.  read more »

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Providing Electricity to Africa by 2050

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How many Africans will have access to electricity by 2050?

According to the World Bank’s latest figures, 64.6% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to electricity in 2012, or a total of 572 million people. Across the world, 1.09 billion have no access to electricity. So, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than half the total.  read more »

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500 Years of GDP: A Tale of Two Countries

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Last year (2014), China overtook the United States in gross domestic product adjusted for purchasing power (GDP-PPP, see point 4 for explanation), according to both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Note 1).  read more »

Poorer Nations Set for 99% of Population Growth

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According to the new United Nations World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, the population of the world is projected to rise from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 11.2 billion in 2100. This represents a 53 percent increase. However, over the period, population growth will moderate substantially. This is indicated by the annual growth rate the first year (2015 to 2016), at 1.1 percent, compared to the last year (2099 to 2100) at 0.1 percent.  read more »

U.S. Late to the Party on Latin America, Africa

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President Barack Obama's proposed tilt of U.S. priorities toward the Pacific – and away from the historical link to Europe – represents one of the most encouraging aspects of his foreign policy. Although welcome, we should recognize that this shift comes about three decades too late and that it may miss the rising geopolitical centrality of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.  read more »

The Decline and Fall of the French Language?

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It's been indisputable for some time that English is becoming the ‘universal language’. As the number of living languages has steadily decreased, the use of English has expanded on every continent. And though English has not — despite predictions — crushed all other languages (German, Russian, and Spanish, to cite the prime examples, all remain strong), one language does seem to be undergoing the predicted cataclysmic collapse. English may not yet have won the globe, but French has definitely lost it.  read more »

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UN Celebrates Seven Billion People a Year Too Early

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The UN has decided to announce that on October 31, 2011 the Earth’s human population will pass the seven billion mark, up from the six billion that was designated on December 5, 1998. The United Nations Population Division Agency is the main organization that estimates global population. Every two years, their report attempts to piece together surprisingly fragmentary national census data and demographic surveys to arrive at a global estimate. As a geographer, I have long been interested in these reports, and in all aspects of population change and distribution on the earth.  read more »