The Observer (Kampala)

15 August 2014

Uganda: UN Report Warns On Uganda Population

Uganda will have the fourth largest percentage increase in population in Africa from 2015 to 2050, a new report by a United Nations agency says.

That increase, according to the report, will add 64 million people to Uganda's population in 2050 and consequently take the total population to nearly 100 million. Currently, Uganda's population is estimated at 37 million, suffocating the economy due to massive unemployment rates and stretching a government with an already pitiful service delivery record.

The report, titled 'Africa Generation 2030' and released on Tuesday, was prepared by the United Nations Children's Education Fund (Unicef). It sought to assess child demographics across the continent and the associated policy issues.

In terms of percentage rises, according to the report, the West African country of Niger will record the largest increase of 260 per cent, which will result in a population rise from 19 million to 69 million from 2015 to 2050.

"The other largest relative increases [are] projected for Zambia (185 per cent); Mali (178 per cent); Uganda (159 per cent); the United Republic of Tanzania, Gambia and Burundi (all 147 per cent); Chad (146 per cent); Somalia (143 per cent) and Nigeria (140 per cent)," adds the 68-page report.

Across the continent, says the report, the population of children aged five years or less will swell by 51 per cent by 2050 while the under-18s is expected to increase by two thirds to almost one billion.

"The number of adolescents will grow by 83 per cent to almost half a billion. By 2100, Africa will be home to almost half the world's children under 18," says the report.

Changing demographics:

Uganda is one of the African countries already with more than half of its population under 18 years of age. The report says that number will rise to 15 by 2015, with Somalia (54 per cent), Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (all 51 per cent) among the eastern Africans on the list. The downside of the upshot in population figures for Uganda is that it will further increase the child dependency ratio in the country.

Already, according to the report, Uganda has the second highest dependency ratio in Africa behind Niger. However, as Uganda's economy grows, the report envisages that the fertility rate in Uganda will drop. Uganda's current fertility rate stands at 5.7 children per woman.

"With the exception of countries with already low levels of fertility rates, significant drops in fertility rates are projected for most African countries over the course of the century, and particularly in those countries with the highest rates at present," says the report.

Eastern African countries whose fertility levels are expected to drop by more 2.5 children per woman over the next 35 years include Uganda, DR Congo, and Somalia.

Big picture:

A statement released by Unicef notes that while child survival rates have improved across Africa, the continent still accounts for about half of child mortality globally, and the proportion could rise to around 70 per cent by 2050. The report notes that three in 10 African children live in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, and that almost 60 per cent of Africans could be living in cities by 2050.

"This report must be a catalyst for global, regional and national dialogue on Africa's children," said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, Unicef's regional director for eastern and southern Africa. "By investing in children now - in their health, education and protection - Africa could realise the economic benefits experienced previously in other regions and countries that have undergone similar demographic shifts."

The report calls for special attention for Nigeria, which already has the greatest number of births in the continent, and will account for almost one in 10 births globally by 2050.

The Generation 2030 project -- renamed to reflect the end date of the post-2015 agenda that is beginning to emerge and to focus on child demographic shifts in the years running up to 2030 and beyond -- provides key data and analysis, and raises policy issues that will foster debate and discussion and influence decisions in the coming years.

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