SA population growth rate slowing

2011-10-26 22:30

Cape Town - South Africa's population growth rate is slowing down, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Wednesday.

"There is a decline in population growth in South Africa," she said at the release of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2011 "State of World Population" report in Cape Town.

Its release takes place as the world's population is set to hit the seven billion mark next week; an increase of a billion people since 1999, and three billion since 1974.

Among the report's findings is that sub-Saharan Africa is the one remaining region in the world where the population is set to double or treble over the next 40 years.

It pegs fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa at 4.8 - compared to an average fertility rate of about 1.7 births in developed countries, well below the replacement level of 2.1 births.

Citing a population expert, the report states: "If Africa's fertility rates were to remain unchanged over the coming decades, the population of the continent would grow extremely rapidly, reaching three billion by 2050, and an incredible 15 billion by 2100."

Africa's population hit the one billion mark in 2009. Figures show the continent's fertility rates are dropping, but still remain too high.

According to Statistics SA's latest mid-year estimates, South Africa's population is now just over 50 million.

Social development chief director for population and development, Jacques van Zuydam, said South Africa's fertility rate was currently about 2.7 children per woman.

Fertility rates started declining in the 1980s, "but really the decline accelerated in the 1990s, as universal access to education... and healthcare... and family planning services... became a reality".

A reasonable expectation was the country's fertility rate would continue to decline.

"A rule of thumb is that once the fertility rate reaches 2.1, the population will stabilise. The rate at which we are moving towards that point is quite rapid," Van Zuydam said.

"What contributes further towards accelerating the slow down in population growth rate is obviously the increasing deaths we've experienced, primarily as a result of the Aids epidemic and related illnesses over the past decade."

Between 2009 and 2014, the country's population was estimated to grow at 0.6%, "which is a significant slowdown from the growth of 2.1% that took place between 1996 and 2001".

On Statistics SA's finding that about one third of the country's 50-million population were under the age of 15, Van Zuydam said this was unlikely to lead to a population boom.

"We do not anticipate that the large group of under 15s will lead to a second population explosion."

According a government population policy document handed out at the launch, South Africa's population is expected to stabilise at 80 million people in 2100.

  • Maximus Odinidus - 2011-10-27 00:27

    Don't worry, with the rate of HIV infections and the amount of rapes going around and possible civil war the population growth will slow down even more. That's also why we are seeing deadly viruses. Nature taking it's course.

      Bianca - 2011-10-27 09:27

      I've always firmly believed that HIV and other diseases are natures way of cleansing the earth, and controlling the population(have you noticed how the major diseases break out or are concentrated in mostly overpoputaled or "3rd world" areas?). Can you imagine just how much worse off the human race would be without these diseases? Food, water and other resources would be rare commodities, meaning more famine and war etc....

  • Harry Meyerowitz - 2011-10-27 06:45

    I know it's an African culture to have many children, but we need to think of the future of these children, can you provide for yourself and all these children? Times have changed, things are expensive and getting worse. It's time to adapt to this chaotic world.

  • Graham.Cooper2 - 2011-10-27 06:58

    Just because they cannot count that far, but then again plenty of imports will help raise the numbers.

  • Heinrich - 2011-10-27 07:02

    This is good. Only with a negative population growth over an extended period of time, can S.A., and indeed the rest of the world, grow out of its current human misery and avoid the looming disaster.

  • sardick.davids - 2011-10-27 07:14

    "80 million in 2100" and that will consist of only 5 million "genuine"South african citizens.

  • Silver - 2011-10-27 07:36

    Guess Zuma didn't read this report.

      Anton - 2011-10-27 13:33

      Zuma is probably 'applying his mind'.

  • Preshen - 2011-10-27 07:51

    Steve and Zuma are slowing down

  • njaycksen - 2011-10-27 10:20


  • Leendert - 2011-10-27 11:08

    Not sure this has anything to do with fertility. More likely even Mother Nature cannot keep up with the murder rate in this country.

  • Anton - 2011-10-27 12:39

    Good news! Finally!

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