Sub-Saharan Africa may miss out on demographic dividend - World Bank

(iStock)
(iStock)
Harare - The "demographic dividend" from population growth can only be realised by means of rapid investment in infrastructure and education, and by managing the natural asset base sustainably in the long run.
 
This is according to the latest World Bank report entitled The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018: Building a Sustainable Future.
 
In the report, the World Bank said it believes sub-Saharan Africa can only realise and benefit from the demographic dividend of its rapidly growing, younger population if investment is sufficient to provide each potential new worker with the same (or more) human, natural, and produced capital.
 
The report reveals global wealth grew significantly between 1995 and 2014. More than two dozen low-income countries, where natural capital dominates the composition of wealth, moved to middle-income status, in part by investing resource rents into infrastructure and education and health, which increases human capital.  
 
However, the wealth accounts also indicate areas of concern.
 

“Some low-income countries - especially in Sub-Saharan Africa - saw a decline in per capita wealth as rapid population growth outpaced investment.

Extreme poverty 

 “We also see that in 12 countries the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has jumped over the last decade,” reads the report.
 
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva said: “It is not a coincidence that several fragile countries are rich in resources, but cannot at present use resource rents to build their institutions and people.” High population growth rates make meeting this goal more challenging.
 
“Several low-income countries experienced a decline in per capita wealth because population growth outpaced investment, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
 

“Although the growth of wealth from 1995 to 2014 in many Sub-Saharan African countries matched that of other regions, the growth was not sufficient to keep up with relatively high population growth in some of them.

"Countries with similar or even less investment growth over the period still increased per capita wealth because of lower population growth rates.”

According to the report, the share of global wealth held by low-income countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, barely moved from less than 1% throughout the period 1995 to 2014, even as those countries’ share of world population grew from 6% to 8%.
 
“Despite growth in the value of agriculture land in Sub-Saharan Africa, it did not keep pace with population growth in 18 of the 35 countries in the data set, and per capita agricultural land value declined,” revealed the report.

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