The relationship between population growth and economic development is interesting. Normally, it is believed that low population growth in a high-income society may impede its development, while a high population growth in a low-income society may bring out many social and economic problems (Peterson, 2017). Africa is an interesting example. It is the second largest and most-populated continent in the world with a population of 1.216 billion people. According to the United Nations report, Africa has the highest rate of population growth among all the other major continents in the world and is predicted to contribute more than 50% of global population growth before 2050 (Africa Population, 2019). In this paper, three reasons will be discussed, trying to answer the question, why increasing population growth in Africa did not bring as much positive influence onto its economy.
The first challenge that Africa faces is its geography. Where a country is located and whether it has access to the ocean can all affect its economic development. For countries that are isolated from water and ocean, if they want to participate in international activities, they face higher shipping cost and more difficulties along the way, because they have to pay for land transportation in addition to water shipping cost, which put them at a disadvantaged position compared to other countries. Moreover, for landlocked countries, they also need to rely heavily on the infrastructure of their neighbors in order to transport goods farther away. If the neighboring countries do not have efficient transportation service, there is another additional cost added. Out of the 55 countries in Africa, 16 of them are completely landlocked, which means that at least one third of Africa’s countries have no access to ocean (Rosenberg, 2019). In this way, in this increasingly globalized society, Africa is missing a huge opportunity in participating in international business. Even when their big population gains them a great advantage in the labor market, the additional cost added due to location took that advantage away.
总之，非洲是一个充满机遇和潜力的大陆。但是，由于许多原因，其人口增长并未对其经济增长做出贡献。原因之一是非洲的社会和环境还没有做好充分准备去面对人口大量增长可能带来的积极影响。如引言中所述，通常情况下，人口增长将对高收入发展国家带来积极的经济影响。但是，非洲本国社会仍然面临许多问题，因此人口的突然增加不仅对社会没有积极影响，甚至带来了许多社会问题。Secondly, even Africa has a huge population, however, the percentage of younger generation is extremely high. According to the report published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 41% of the Africa’s population are children under the age of 15, and the literacy rate is only 65%. And 17 out of the total 55 countries in Africa still have a literacy rate lower than 50% (Africa Population, 2019). Investors and entrepreneurs are more likely to be attracted to nations with high literacy rate and bring in a large flow of investment, which in turn can turn into positive influence on the nation’s economy (Sachs & Warner, 1997). Thus, even though the population grows tremendously in Africa, the majority of the population are teenagers and children, who have not yet become the mainstream of the society. And the low literary rate is also a major drawback that slowed the development rate of Africa’s economic growth.
Thirdly, the high corruption rate in Africa is a huge burden on its development. Corruption is considered one of the biggest threats in Africa, not only endangering the continent’s efforts toward its social, economic and political development, but also the well-being of families, citizens and business partners in Africa. It has been predicted that the government in Africa spent $148 billion every year in non-corruption efforts. Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer has found that in 2019, more than 47,000 citizens from 35 countries in Africa believe that the corruption is becoming worse in their nation and the government has not done enough efforts to solve the issue. People have to pay a bribe to buy medicine, get their driver licenses, and even passports. According to the survey conducted, every one in four people admitted that they had to at least bribe once in the past year in their daily life (Whiting, 2019). The corruption resulted in people’s loss of faith in the government and increased the level of difficulty to expand business into Africa, which leads to a loss of many potential business partnerships for Africa. Without a good social foundation and a stable business environment, purely relying on population growth will not bring in a positive impact on the economy.
In conclusion, Africa is a continent with a lot of opportunities and potential. However, its population growth is not contributing to its economic growths due to a lot of reasons. One of the reasons being that the society and environment in Africa is not prepared to be ready enough to face the positive influence that might been brought in with huge population growth. Like mentioned in the introduction, it is normally the case that population growth will bring positive economic influence on a high-income development nation. However, Africa still face many problems in its own society, so the sudden increase in population not only did not have a positive impact on the society, but even brought out many social problems.
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Peterson, E. W. F. (2017). The Role of Population in Economic Growth. SAGE Open, 7(4), 215824401773609. doi: 10.1177/2158244017736094
Rosenberg, M. (2019, June 29). Can You Name All of Africa's Landlocked Countries? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/african-countries-that-are-landlocked-4060437.
Sachs, J., & Warner, A. (1997). Sources of Slow Growth in African Economies. Harvard Institute for International Development, 6, 73–225. Retrieved from https://watermark.silverchair.com/6-3-335.pdf
Whiting, K. (2019, July 29). 1 in 4 Africans had to pay a bribe to access public services last year. Retrieved November 29, 2019, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/africa-corruption-bribe-economy/.