Africa’s population growth: Boom or bust?

As Africa’s population explodes, how can we guarantee prosperity for everyone on the continent?

The informal sector is a significant contributor to Ghana's economy. Picture: Primedia

In the next forty years, 25% of the world’s population is expected to live in Africa. That’s one in every four people on the planet. And this population boom means we’ll need to find new ways of guaranteeing prosperity for everyone who calls Africa home.

Standard Bank chief economist Goolam Ballim says right now, we as Africans are not consuming what fellow Africans produce, preferring to import products instead.

It is that dynamic which we need to change, and which the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) potentially can stoke by aiding industrialisation on the continent.

Goolam Ballim, chief economist - Standard Bank

The ACFTA is in force between 27 nations, including South Africa, and could transform Africa's economies by opening up trade. Ballim believes the agreement can be a game-changer.

If we can harness this vast market of consumers and build production and supply chains to cater for populations, we can generate income and guarantee prosperity.

Goolam Ballim, chief economist - Standard Bank

But he says the ACFTA ’s success will depend on several key factors, including political buy-in, economic diplomacy and private sector involvement.

We [also] need to have public participation and the capacity for the public to see how cross-border trade… can enhance welfare for most of the continent.

Goolam Ballim, chief economist - Standard Bank

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Listen to the full conversation between EWN's WEF Africa correspondent Arabile Gumede and Goolam Ballim, chief economist at Standard Bank.