Lessons from African champion countries for demographic transition
In the debate about demography in the context of sub-Saharan African countries, often the key messages focus on high expected population growth. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is projected to at least double to around 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects. However, what is lost in these numbers is that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa already are spurring a demographic transition (albeit at differing rates and stages) with both declining infant mortality and fertility rates. Ethiopia, Malawi and Rwanda are leading the way and providing evidence that within the African context it is possible to manage an acceleration of the demographic transition without a dramatic change of economic status.
How these champion countries achieved this is explained in a recently published literature review that is part of the K4D (Knowledge, Evidence and Learning for Development) Learning Journey on Supporting a Demographic Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa. All three countries’ transition is primarily the result of political commitment and leadership combined with comprehensive population policies that put voluntary family planning at the centre by linking it to other policies (education, health, job creation, etc.) and laws (e.g. revision of abortion laws and child marriage laws).