ICAEW chart of the week: Africa

I take a look at Africa this week and how its current population of 1.5bn, 18% of the world’s total, is distributed across the continent.

Map of Africa's 1.5bn people with countries coloured into five regions, overlayed by semi-transparent scaled bubbles with the population of each region.

Teal: Western Africa 435m.
Orange: Northern Africa 221m.
Green: Central Africa 178m.
Purple: Southern Africa 198m.
Blue: Eastern Africa 428m.

My chart this week illustrates how Africa’s population of 1,460m can be divided into five regions. These comprise Western Africa with 435m people, Northern Africa with 221m, Central Africa with 178m, Southern Africa with 198m, and Eastern Africa with 428m. 

These regions are based on the African Union’s official regions for its 55 member states, which differ from the regions used by the United Nations. They include Réunion (1.0m) and Mayotte (0.3m), two French overseas territories in the Indian Ocean that are not members of the African Union, as well as St Helena (5,000), an overseas territory of the UK in the Atlantic. It also includes an estimated 5.8m people living in African Union applicant Somaliland that are included within the number for Somalia.

Excluded are 175,000 or so people living on the African continent in Ceuta and Melilla (Spain), around 2.2m and 250,000 respectively in the Atlantic Ocean on the Canary Islands (Spain) and Madeira (Portugal), and several hundred people in the Indian Ocean within France’s Southern Territories.

The table below breaks down the total by country within each region, highlighting how the four largest countries by population each have more than 100m people, led by Nigeria with 223.8m (15.3% of Africa’s total), Ethiopia with 126.5m (8.7%), Egypt with 112.7m (7.7%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 102.3m (7.0%). 

The next largest are Tanzania with 67.4m (4.6%), South Africa with 60.4m (4.1%), Kenya with 55.1m (3.8%), Uganda with 48.6m (3.3%), Sudan with 48.1m (3.3%), Algeria with 45.6m (3.1%), Morocco with 37.8m (2.6%), Angola with 36.7m (2.5%), Ghana with 34.1m (2.3%), Mozambique with 33.9m (2.3%), Madagascar with 30.3m (2.1%) and Côte d’Ivoire with 28.9m (2.0%).

Table showing populations by each region:

Western Africa 435m: Nigeria 223.8m, Ghana 34.1m, Côte d'Ivoire 28.9m, Niger 27.2m, Mali 23.3m, Burkina Faso 23.3m, Senegal 17.7m, Guinea 14.2m, Benin 13.7m, Togo 9.1m, Sierra Leone 8.9m, Liberia 5.4m, Gambia 2.8m, Guinea-Bissau 2.2m, Cabo Verde 0.6m, St Helena (UK) 0.0m.

Northern Africa 221m: Egypt 112.7m, Algeria 45.6m, Morocco 37.8m, Tunisia 12.5m, Libya 6.9m, Mauritania 4.9m, Western Sahara 0.6m.

Central Africa 178m: DR Congo 102.3m, Cameroon 28.6m, Chad 13.2m, Congo 6.1m, Central African Republic 5.7m, Gabon 2.4m, Equatorial Guinea 1.7m, São Tomé and Principe 0.2m.

Southern Africa 198m: South Africa 60.4m, Angola 36.7m, Mozambique 33.9m, Malawi 20.9m, Zambia 20.6m, Zimbabwe 16.7m, Botswana 2.7m, Namibia 2.6m, Lesotho 2.3m, Eswatini 1.2m.

Eastern Africa 428m: Ethiopia 126.5m, Tanzania 67.4m, Kenya 55.1m, Uganda 48.6m, Sudan 48.1m, Madagascar 30.3m, Somalia 18.1m, Rwanda 14.1m, South Sudan 11.1m, Eritrea 3.7m, Mauritius 1.3m, Djibouti 1.1m, Réunion (FR) 1.0m, Comoros 0.9m, Mayotte (FR) 0.3m, Seychelles 0.1m.

The population of Africa is expected to grow significantly over the rest of the century, with the UN’s medium variant projecting a population of 1.7bn (20% of the projected global total) in 2030, 2.1bn in 2040 (23%), 2.5bn (26%) in 2050, 2.9bn (28%) in 2060, 3.2bn (31%) in 2070, 3.5bn (34%) in 2080, 3.7bn (36%) in 2090 and 3.9bn (38%) in 2100. This is despite a rapidly declining birth rate, with many more Africans living much longer lives than preceding generations.

Africa is currently relatively poor compared with advanced economies, with the total GDP for its 55 countries and 1.5bn people close in size to the UK’s single country GDP for 67.5m people of around £2.5trn a year at current exchange rates. This is around 3% of the global economy in each case. 

The UK’s share of the global economy is likely to decline over the rest of the century as Africa and other developing economies grow at a much faster pace. For Africa the combination of a rapidly growing population and economic development should see it become substantially more significant to the global economy than it is today.

This chart was originally published by ICAEW.

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