UNICEF Report: Africa’s Population Could Hit 4 Billion By 2100

Seun Dupe sits with her newborn twins in a maternity hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria is Africa's most populous country with more than 160 million people. UNICEF estimates that number will swell to nearly 1 billion by 2100. (Sunday Alamba/AP)
Seun Dupe sits with her newborn twins in a maternity hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria is Africa's most populous country with more than 160 million people. UNICEF estimates that number will swell to nearly 1 billion by 2100. (Sunday Alamba/AP)
Seun Dupe sits with her newborn twins in a maternity hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people. UNICEF estimates that number will swell to nearly 1 billion by 2100. (Sunday Alamba/AP Photo)

(NPR) – “The future of humanity is increasingly African.”

That’s the prediction in a new UNICEF report, which estimates that by the end of this century, 40 percent of the world’s people will be African — up from 15 percent now. The continent’s population currently sits at roughly 1.2 billion but will soar to more than 4 billion by 2100. Nearly 1 billion will live in Nigeria alone.

In a report released Wednesday, UNICEF projected the growth of Africa’s child population within the next century. And the numbers are staggering.

An estimated 1.8 billion births will take place in Africa in the next 35 years, the authors predict. By 2050, Africa will have almost 1 billion children under 18, making up nearly 40 percent of kids worldwide.

Lead author David Anthony tells NPR’s Melissa Block on All Things Considered that even the researchers were surprised by the findings. “[We] knew that the world’s population was swinging toward Africa,” he says. “But there have been new estimates released by the U.N. population division … that shows an even stronger swing than we have anticipated.”

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