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Demographic Change, Economic Growth, and Political Development


A rich history of Africa’s demographic change, economic growth, and political development exists. The African population has significantly increased (Kanos, 2020). Besides, the African economy is growing steadily despite many challenges, such as conflict, violence, and high poverty rates. Colonialism greatly impacted the Africans politically and economically. As a result, post-independence African states are a Western model (Bayeh, 2015). Besides, the corrupt nature of African leaders is highly influenced by colonial experiences. This paper will critically evaluate the three sections.

Demographic Change

For the past century, there has been a rapid growth in the African population. This differs from how things were in 1900 when the annual growth rate was 0.1% between 1900 and 1950 (Kanos, 2020). Between 1950 andand 1970, the population growth increased steadily at 2.8%. According to estimations, it was estimated that by 1960, the population was to be 257 million, but due to rapid growth, it was at 482 million, which was double the estimate.

The African continent is larger than the United States, Japan, India, and China combined. Due to rapid population increase, there is increased urbanization, which allows the continent to transform into a global economic powerhouse. The urbanization pace in Africa has grown steadily (Kanos, 2020). In 1950, the African urban population was 27 million, making the continent the least urbanized place. Today, the urban population is 567 million and is estimated to increase steadily. In 1950, only a handful of African countries had an urbanization level above 20%, and only 26 had an urbanization level above 10%. The rest of the nations were agricultural societies.

According to statistics done in 2010, 47 African countries were above 20%. In 2015, approximately 50% of African individuals lived in one of the 7.618 urban agglomerations. North Africa is the most urbanized region, and some of the countries include Egypt and Libya. The majority of people in Africa are young (Kanos, 2020). As a result, half of the one billion people in Africa are under 20 years old. It is estimated by the year 2050, the African population will be at 2.2 billion which is twice times the current population. Again, by the year 2030, the urban population will have increased by an additional 870 million people.

Economic Growth

According to projections, in 2023, the sub-Saharan region’s economic growth was at 2.5%, slower than in 2022 at 3.6%. The decline in growth is mainly contributed by increased conflicts and violence in the region (Tutor, 2023). Again, approximately 426 million people in the area live in extreme poverty conditions, making it hard for the economy to thrive. Many countries in the region live in high debt distress risks—for instance, Ghana, Zambia, and Chad.

Economic growth in the continent is uneven. As a result, the eastern part of the continent recorded 2023 a growth rate of 1.8%, and West Africa a growth rate of 3.3%. The African continent is rich with natural resources, which improves the countries’ fiscal and debt sustainability opportunities. Natural resources such as oil, gas, and minerals offer a substantial economic opportunity for the African economy (Tutor, 2023). It is estimated that in the next three decades, the continent will experience the fastest increase in the working-age population; hence, by 2050, the net gain will be 740 million people, and 12 million youths will enter the labor market. Some of the economic drivers include trade, agriculture, industry, and human resources. According to a 2019 report, the 54 countries were home to 1.3 billion people. Besides, the continent is known for its natural resources, which are its riches. Recently, there has been a steady growth in commodities, manufacturing, and services. Therefore, by the year 2050, the African GDP is projected to be at $29 trillion.

Economic growth has been the leading solution for poverty reduction in the sub-Saharan region. According to research, an increase in mean per capita results in absolute poverty decline (Moser, 2001). Besides, when a country decides to increase its overall income and GDP, it can help reduce absolute poverty by providing more resources to meet basic needs. Some of the economic policies that help achieve growth include social safety nets, which entail effective social welfare programs that help reduce absolute and relative poverty as the policy supports people in need. Besides, there is the taxation and redistribution in which progressive tax systems and income redistribution policies help mitigate income inequality, hence, relative poverty reduction.

Political Development

The economic legacy of colonialism

The African continent flourished economically in the pre-colonial era as they traded gold, textiles, and spices. Besides, the continent had civilization as it had kingdoms led by kings (Litz. 2015). The continent also had a government system and commerce. During the colonial era, African natural resources were highly exploited. As a result, Africa is economically weak in its interaction with the global market. Besides, during the colonial era, the young people who were healthy and robust were enslaved, leaving behind a weak and unhealthy population, which contributed to Africa’s economic underdevelopment (Bayeh, 2015). Besides, the colonizers left the continent poor and oppressed; hence, the continent had to start from scratch to improve its economy, and that is why the African economy in the global market is behind.

The political legacy of colonialism

The present political system in African countries directly reflects colonial rule. During the pre-colonial era, Africans practiced a democratic culture. However, things changed after colonialism, slavery, and neo-colonialism were introduced (Bayeh, 2015). The African nations pushed aside their traditional political systems and adopted the centralized state system, which provided ethnic and authorized political culture. Again, during the colonial era, the colonizers were the decision-makers. Today, African political parties have inherited a monopolized system, which tends to make decisions for citizens.

Political factors significantly influence economic development, and it is possible through supporting or disrupting the development process. For instance, political choices that influence the legal system will, in turn, impact economic development (Bayeh, 2015). Political factors affecting economic development include trade laws, political instability or stability, regime type, corruption, and policy management.

The gatekeeping state refers to the African government whose primary purpose is to bring balance between internal political instability against external factors’ influence. The term was developed in 1943 by Kurt Lewin. The government controls the interface between their nation and the rest of the world (Dorman, 2018). The representation work of the government is essential as it enables them to raise revenue through import levying and benefits from the receipt of any foreign loans by the international community.


Bayeh, E. (2015). The political and economic legacy of colonialism in the post-independence African states. Researchgate, n.d.

Dorman, S. R. (2018). Beyond the gatekeeper state? Studying Africa’s states and the state system in the 12th Century. Tand Fonline, 311-324.’s_states_and_state_systems_in_the_twenty-first_century

Kanos, D. (2020). Figures of the week: Africa’s urbanization dynamics. Brookings, n.d.

Lotz, C. (2015). Africa’s Rich History Erased. IOL, n.d.

Moser, G. (2001). Economic growth and poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa. IMF Working Paper, 1-32.

Tutor. (2023). 4.2.1 Absolute and relative poverty (Edexcel). Tutor 2U, n.d. – :~:text=Absolute%20Poverty%3A%20It%20has%20a,resources%20in%20a%20particular%20society.


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