Migration is a win-win situation for Africa and the Rich world


Immigrants from Africa
African Immigrants at the airport: (AI-Generated)

When China’s one-child policy was first announced in 1979, it was with full knowledge of the future that the conditions that necessitated the policy would be ephemeral. It is ubiquitous knowledge that population growth increases density and, together with rural-urban migration, this creates higher urban agglomeration which is critical for achieving sustained growth. 

In recent times, there has been a wave of depopulation crises in pockets of the rich world. In Japan for instance, the fourth largest economy globally, the population of its nationals fell by about 800,000 people, or 0.65%, to 122.4 million in 2022 from the previous year, falling for a 14th straight year, according to data from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry based on residency registrations as of January 2023. The fertility rate is also rapidly falling in the country, as the fertility rate for Japanese women currently stands at 1.26 children per woman which falls short of what is required (2.1 children) as specified by the OECD for ensuring a broadly stable population.

Non-English-speaking European countries seem to be among the hardest-hit nations experiencing worrisome population declines, and navigating these conundrums is increasingly becoming an issue for these nations as they struggle to keep their economies afloat amidst the changing trends of globalization. Canada is also one of the nations that have been in the spotlight for immigration, having one of the lowest population densities in the world at 4.2 per sq as of 2020, (although still much higher than most European countries), the nation is aggressive in welcoming immigrant populations to fill up deficient labor needs.  And at the bottom of the scale are nations like South Korea with the world’s lowest birth rate at 0.78 births per woman. The country is desperately looking for ways to raise its fertility rate. 

While there are many factors attributable to the disparity in wealth amongst different countries, population is oftentimes listed as a determinant factor of the Size of GDP of a nation. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy to delineate the fact that 3 of the top 10 richest countries in the world by per capita GDP (Norway, Iceland, and Luxembourg) all share the same commonality of relatively smaller population and land area sizes and slower population growth rates, compared to global averages. This dispels the supposition that population growth is crucial for sustained National prosperity.

However, Theory can sometimes be different from practice, and their application in individual countries might differ across nations due to the varying social, political, or economic structures in place in those nations. So the idea of whether or not the correlation between population and economic growth leads to improved living standards requires a more florid analysis and the major goal of this article is not to demystify that but to postulate the potential role of Africa’s youthful population in helping fill the gap in rich countries.

In the year 2022, it was announced that the world population reached 8 billion people, and it’s expected to reach 10.1 billion people by 2100. The fertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa currently averages 4.45 children per woman doubling the 2.1 requirement for stable population growth with countries like DRC, Niger, and Chad leading the region with birth rates as high as 6 children per woman. According to the United Nations, half of the global population growth from 2022 to 2050 will occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The region’s population is currently growing three times faster than the rest of the world, and by the end of the century, it will be home to a third of all people in the world, compared to only 14 percent in 2019. This statistic is staggering as much as it is scary, given that there are predominantly high rates of poverty and inequality in the region. The paucity of the working population in rich countries in contrast to the surplus available in Sub-Saharan Africa creates an ample opportunity for the youths to earn a better living through migration. Taking a cue from the argument that refutes that population growth ensures sustained prosperity, well, why this argument might not be entirely true in itself, it is beneficial to the context of my explanation to placate these conflicting ideologies. 

An increasingly high population without a corresponding increase in economic growth and development heightens pressure on the social amenities, welfare services, and infrastructure available to a nation. It also makes a country harder to govern as the rate at which the population grows is not replicated by the election of officials entrusted with the responsibility of governance and leadership. A wider gap is created between the people and the government thereby leading to ineffective leadership and governance. Basic government responsibilities like the provision of quality education, a good healthcare system, and standard infrastructure become more expensive amidst limited government revenues. These situations highlighted are evidently peculiar to many sub-Saharan African countries with a weightier emphasis on nations like Nigeria and DRC. 

Also, reflecting on the concept of consumerism which stresses the propensity to consume and to keep consuming as demonstrated by the population of a given country, high population fuels the growth of GDP as more goods and services (value) will need to be created and consumed. Capitalism thrives where the market is larger and bigger, meanwhile, the ability of a thriving capitalism to improve the standard of living of the population is imputed in situations where the gap between the rich and the poor is so wide that those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder get stuck in the cycle of poverty at the expense of the bulging pockets of capitalists. 

Not only does an increased population decrease well-being and living standards. According to the author – Derrick Jenson of the book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”, the imperative of centralized empires has always been to exploit and expand. For those in power, they seem unable to know when to stop. To them, more people means more power. Using Nigeria as an example; Despite having the largest population in Africa, there were unrefuted claims of deliberate exaggeration of population census figures in some regions by politicians to gain political sway or maintain their grip on power. 

Africa currently has the youngest population in the world with over 70% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30 according to the United Nations, and while the benefits of our burgeoning population might not be the best news at the moment given the already depressing condition of the majority. The depopulation crisis and low fertility rates in the rich world provide an exit opportunity to reduce the continent’s burden on its social amenities, infrastructure, and limited revenue. High population thrives best where capitalism considerably benefits the majority not where it tramples on the minority. Highly populated Nations like India and China have people of their origin spread over all countries and continents of the world. Not only do these immigrants contribute hugely to the economy of their countries through remittances, but some return to their countries after a while to start successful ventures that help create employment and boost productivity in the economy. 

According to the World Bank, Migration contributes significantly to human development, shared prosperity, and poverty alleviation. Migration is not just beneficial to Africa, It is a win-win situation for both parties. One party (developing country) offsets the burden of its large population given its limited resources, while the other party (developed country) with vast resources but a dwindling population supplements its labor needs with the incoming migrants. 

Despite all being said, one factor remains crucial to the success of this already manifesting proposition, African governments must at least provide quality education and vocational training to its masses, for what is worse than having too much population is “having too much population without skills or proper education”.

You might also want to check out related articles: Beyond Migrating, taking responsibility as Nigerians, or Lights, Camera, Africa: A Blockbuster Solution to Brain Drain! 

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