Africa is a continent that is filled with potential, with the population of the continent continuing to grow as an increasingly younger demographic begins to take shape, in contrast to many other parts of the world, where ageing populations are the order of the day.
The seventh African Population Conference (APC) jointly hosted by the government of South Africa and the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS) took place last week, with the conference, which is convened only once every four years, presenting information and challenges concerning population growth on the continent.
One of the important elements that needs to be considered in Africa involves the future workforce that will carry the continent forward.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Africa’s future workforce and the continent’s ability to adapt to the changing landscape that the future holds.
The an African population boom is coming
Africa is in the process of experiencing a population boom, which is set to be both exciting and challenging at the same time. Unicef forecasts suggest that the continent’s population will reach 2.5 billion by 2050, while by 2100 Africa will be home to 40% of the world’s people, which is an incredible thought in itself.
The youngest workforce
The population boom means that the vast majority of Africa’s people will be young, vibrant and ready to contribute to the workforce of a continent with great potential. The fact that other parts of the world are now struggling with ageing workers and a population that is imbalanced in terms of young versus old puts Africa at an advantage, as 50% of the African population is currently under 20 years old.
The largest workforce
The fastest growing and youngest workforce also translates into Africa producing the largest workforce in the near future, with 122 million people expected to be added to the workforce by 2020, totalling around 504 million according to forecasts in five years time. The advantage of this is clear, as long as the jobs are available, and the skills needed are produced for this massive working population.
The fastest growing economies
According to recent statistics, 16 out of the 26 fastest growing economies in the world come from Africa, producing an excellent case for investors to put their money into a workforce that will be young enough and numerous enough to produce results and make the most out of economies that are consistently expanding on the backs of Africa’s people.
Excellent GDP growth expected
In tandem with the economies of Africa growing well at a time when most of the world is struggling to sustain any growth, and some are falling into recessions, African gross domestic product growth will also increase thanks to an ever expanding workforce. A GDP growth of between 6 and 7% is expected within Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, which is impressive growth by any standard. South Africa is expected to experience GDP growth of between 2 and 3%, as one of the more developed African nations.
Middle class growth explosion
The middle class in Africa will experience great growth through this future period of population expansion, with more money produced in growing economies and GDP growth to match ensuring that more people will fall into the middle class category. In 2010 it was estimated that 150 million people in Africa formed the middle class, and these numbers are set to increase to 210 million by 2020, and 490 million by 2040.
Skills mismatch requires addressing
At the moment in most African countries there is a severe skills mismatch, meaning that the skills that are being learned do not correspond to the opportunities that are available. With about 10 million young people entering the labour force each year, research organisation, African Economic Outlook determined that the current youth workforce of 36 African countries displays a 54% mismatch between the skills of job seekers and employers’ requirements. With the looming population boom in mind, this mismatch needs to be rectified fast in order to provide the skills for available jobs.
Demographic opportunities demand smart policies
With the incredible growth that Africa will experience in the future, African governments need to recognise the advantages of the shifting demographic structure, while putting in the hard work in terms of pushing forward the correct policies that will allow the people of Africa to realise the opportunities that will become available to them as the largest and youngest working population in coming years.
Fastest growing digital consumer market
In addition to the fact that Africa will command the youngest and most numerous workforce in the world, Africans will also be the fastest growing digital consumer market, taking advantage of growth and improved Internet penetration and access that will allow for 600 million African Internet users by 2025.
Smartphones are the way to go
Smartphone penetration continues to grow at an astonishing rate throughout the continent, in line with the growing digital consumer market as young people become increasingly digitally focused and mobile in Africa continues to thrive. This trend will persist in future, and it is estimated that there will be around 360 million smartphone users in Africa by the year 2025.
Source: AFK Insider