Africa’s population is growing faster than jobs are created, and whether the trend continues or can be reversed will have much to do with whether the continent generates prosperity or instability in the coming decades.
This is a conclusion of The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017, released today by the World Economic Forum, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank Group.
With the right combination of policies implemented speedily and effectively, Africa can turn its growing working-age population into a “demographic dividend” in which incomes rise, families can save and invest, cities offer affordable housing, productivity rises, and more investments can take place.
Failure to strengthen government institutions, improve infrastructure, and promote near- and long-term job creation will lead to a widening gap between the rising population and available employment. The report projects that Africa’s working age population should grow by 450 million people but that the continent’s economies, without significant policy reform, will likely produce only 100 million new jobs.
Despite challenging trends, the report offers a positive outlook, grounded in Africa’s economic performance over the past decade and the growing awareness among governments of the need for reform.