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Trend in Nigerian population growth

The world population is increasing, with already more than 7 billion people on the planet. The population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion people by 2050. About 40 per cent of the worldwide growth will take place in Africa, United Nations forecast show.

The current population of Africa is 1,357,986,650 as of Monday, January 18, 2021, which is equivalent to 16.72 per cent of the total world population.
A breakdown of the population by 5 regions that make up African continent reveals that East African population as at the end of 2020 stood at 445,405,606 people; West Africa, 401,861,254; North Africa, 246,232,518; Central Africa, 179,595,134, and Southern Africa (67,503,635).

According to the UN estimate, Sub-Sahara Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050 and Nigeria is seen as one of the nine countries where the increase in the world population will be concentrated. Already, the Nigerian population is growing at a rate of 3.75 per cent per year indicating a doubling of the population every 22 years. It is expected that the population will double from 206,139,589 million in 2020 to 401 million in 2050. Also, this population growth will be accompanied by rapid rural-urban drift and an expansion of the middle class. Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the entire world, surpassing the United States, according to various projections.

Factors affecting human’s population size
Population is affected by many factors; the main natural ones are birth rates and death rates as these factors affect the level of natural change (increase or decrease) within the population. And other factors that could impact population growth include immigration (into a country) and emigration (where people exit a country) since no country exists in isolation.

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The latest National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) data published in 2018 shows that the number of international travellers’ movement across all Nigerian borders increased by 21.91 per cent from 3,715,268 people in 2017 to 4,529,153 people in 2018. This represents 2 per cent of the total population during the reference period. And other factors that affect the change in a country’s population growth include emancipation of women, agricultural changes, education and the impact of urbanisation.

Rural to urban migration happened in the past centuries in richer nations and is happening today in poorer nations. Take for example, in Nigeria, urban population make up 52.0 per cent or 107,112,526 people of the total population. Urbanisation has a significant effect on population growth because it can impact the birth and death rates of a country. As a country becomes increasingly urbanised, the birth rate tends to rise and death rates tend to fall.

The birth rates rise because people have more access to medical care in cities than in rural areas thus infant mortality falls and birth rate rises. This is a short-term change, as development occurs over longer periods in the urban area and birth rates can fall as it will be easier to deliver family planning. Death rates fall in urban areas because it is cheaper and more economic to provide medical and education services, and to ensure more reliable food supplies to households.

This means that people get more educated, better fed and can be treated when sick. This is often not the case in more remote rural areas so death rates fall in urban areas. The resultant effect of this is a surge in population growth. Besides, this could also exert pressure on the available infrastructure forcing the prices of goods to surge due to higher demand. This assertion is evident in the recent NBS Consumer Price Index (CPI) data which revealed that the urban inflation rate increased by 16.33 per cent (year-on-year) in December 2020 from 15.47 per cent recorded in November 2020, while the rural inflation rate increased by 15.20 per cent compared to 14.33 per cent recorded in November 2020.

The negative sides the Nigerian population growth
Ordinary, this growth should have meant a huge market size, because a large population offers large market size, with enormous benefits for economic and commercial activities provided there is a strong purchasing power among the citizenry. However, this is where it gets complicated, Nigeria with a population size of over 200 million people many of whom are relatively young population.

By contrast, the educational sector, healthcare, real estate, consumer goods, financial services, information and communication, power and energy are among the sectors that should have benefited from the large population. However, it appears that this is not the case in Nigeria because of several social and economic challenges such as–deteriorating purchasing power occasioned by a rising inflation rate that characterized the economy.

The recent NBS data show that Nigeria’s inflation rate increased by 15.75 per cent (year-on-year) in December 2020, the highest rate recorded in 3 years. This represents 0.86 percentage point increase when compared with 14.89 per cent recorded in November 2020.

These have created intense competition between Fast-Moving Consumers Goods (FMCGs) who struggle to make a profit by cutting prices with the hope of boosting volume sales. Many retail industries particularly the FMCGs are increasingly adapting by repackaging their commodities into sachet model. The sachet trend has continued to expand due to shrinking income levels, wide-spread hardship and rising poverty amongst the populace.

Also, the widespread poverty that plagues the economy has inevitably reduced agricultural output per capita, leading to food insecurity and the spike in population growth which in turn reduces income per head.

These can be addressed with a combination of coordinated policies. Nigeria could unlock the huge benefits inherent in her large population with appropriate policy implementation. Some of the policies include investment in quality education, healthcare services and establishment of technical centres for skills acquisition. Besides, policymakers and economic managers should create an enabling business environment that would attract investments (both local and foreign) and foster business expansion to create jobs.

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