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Demographics: Africa’s Next Timebomb?

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There was an article in the East African yesterday, highlighting Uganda’s young demographics. Apparently, our neighbour has the youngest demographics in the world. This is not necessarily a good thing.

In the West, a very young population is something that governments currently dream of, hoping to use the tax revenues from the youngsters to fund the pensions of those who have retired. As it is, immigration has probably played a very large role in keeping their finances afloat. As all of the baby boomers become pensioners, and fewer of us have children, it will be interesting to see how governments maintain pension levels without taxing their tax base into extinction.

For developing countries, however, the problem is different. Not only are there far too many young folk, but there is very little in the way of social security to keep them occupied while they search for jobs. The upshot is poverty, and its close relation, civil unrest.

Without jobs, or the opportunity to apply for jobs, those youth who have spent 12 years or longer in education are left with nothing. In the absence of any means to improve their situation, they are liable to fall prey to whoever has the most plausible reason to run amok. And run amok they will, for what else is there to do?

All African countries, when compared to the West, have very young populations. One of the big problems with development is getting jobs for these young people. Not everyone can be a CEO, not everyone is cut out to be a senior programmer, but something needs to be done if we are to develop as an equitable society.

[Image by John & Mel Kots]


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