According to www.worldmeters.info, the population of Africa as at September 15, 2017 is approximately 1.25 billion people, and amongst this population, about 40% are under the age of 15. In terms of population, Africa is second position in the regions of the world, and is projected to double its number by 2050 as reported by World Population Prospects in its 2017 population review. Among the many reasons for population boom, high fertility rate, infant mortality rate, and culture are major contributors. In addition to these precursors, belief systems, ignorance, and poverty are other causes of population boom. Population boom, without a corresponding match with infrastructural, economic and sociopolitical development results in unforeseeable dilution of the already meager standard of living of the people. The pride of a nation isn’t all about the number of the population, but the amount of comfort and positively projected comfort available to the people. As at 2016, the population of Luxembourg was 576249, but in spite of its small number of people, according to Wikipedia, “After the decline of the steel industry in the 1970s, the country focused on establishing itself as a global financial centre and developed into the banking hub it is reputed for. Since the beginning of the 21st century, its governments have focused on developing the country into a knowledge economy, with the founding of the University of Luxembourg and a national space programme, projecting the first involvement in a non-manned lunar expedition by 2020.”
Luxembourg achieved its objectives and continued to be on Europe’s radar of developed countries because of FOCUS. Any nation that is focused on set targets will surely achieve it, but to focus, she must have a vision, a direction, and predetermined and measurable points of evaluation whereby results are reviewed so as to ascertain if the stipulated plans are being attained. It isn’t enough to make bold declarations when there isn’t a momentum to drive it to conclusion. It isn’t great coming up with audacious budgets without the fiscal discipline to propel it. Focus requires a wholehearted attention, and this type of attention makes things happen. Making things happen involves knowing what to do with what some consider as disadvantage, but behind it lays boundless merits. Population boom is a big advantage if square pegs are put in square holes. China for instance, has a population of over a billion people, and because the country knows what to do with the people, she has become a world economic power, and the world’s human resources production capital. Africa’s current population is less than China – the continent is approximately 1.25 billion people, but China, as at 2016 was 1.379 billion people. If China could take advantage of her population because of her visionary mentality, making purposeful plans, and pursuing vigorously their set targets in the right direction, we can do likewise and achieve that same success, if not more. Success isn’t achieved because someone has a first class brain – it is attained where there is the plan and the will. If we have the plans and will, we can make it happen!
To turn the negatives of Africa’s population boom into the positives of human capitals, I suggest we do the following.
Realization of the Power of Numerical Strength
In spite of the negatives inclined to a surging population, one basic thing that must be realized is that number determines strength if what should be in place is in place. There isn’t a need to sit down and moan because of a growing population – if you can’t beat down the population, think of what you can do with the population. Thinking of what to do with the number starts with a change in perception, especially, as projected by the west – what isn’t to the west’s advantage, they rubbish, particularly when it has to do with Africa. We must begin by being proud of our numbers, and then, do something with it.
Understanding Our True Demography and Social Economic Grading
Most of the demographic figures and social economic grading available to Africa are generally estimated, and may not be close to the real numbers. To understand our true position, we need to have the right tools to conduct proper census, and be honest with the emergent statistics. Knowing the real thing helps us do sensible planning, understand where scarce resources should be put into, know where there is an urgent need, and where there should be a developmental focus.
The Need to Empower each Demographic Subset
I am an advocate of youth empowerment, but recently, I have been thinking of also empowering the aged because to grow an economy, everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. We mustn’t make the old feel useless – there’s a lot they can offer even in retirement. In United Kingdom, there’s hardly any charity shop you visit, that you don’t see old people either working as shop assistants or helping to tidy up and arrange the goods in the shops. Every second they spend in those shops add values to the economy. They do it optionally, but they enjoy doing it, as it takes them out of home, but in doing it, they don’t realize the level of productivity they’re adding to the economy.
You can’t overemphasize the need for skills acquisition, and training and development, especially for the young population. If you give young people skills, you are actually investing in the now and the future. The education curricula must be designed to offer skills straightaway from the classroom, otherwise, it isn’t fit for purpose. I would give another illustration with United Kingdom because that is where I live, and I will pick nursing as an example. I discovered that when studying nursing in the UK, the number of days you spend in hospital wards doing placements is about 60-70% of the three years duration of the course, and in their last year, they’re already employed by one of the hospitals because they have, during training acquired all the skills they need. And for this, the National Health Service has some of the best nurses in the world.
A booming population that is empowered with relevant skills is gold to the world. A booming population that is made relevant through the abilities of everyone to offer something to the society is a great asset. Empowerment must not only be classroom training; on-the-job training, apprenticeship, or job placements are a mega way of putting tools and skills in the hands of the people. A man with skills and tools is more likely to have the dignity not to steal. Where everyone is useful, everyone is more prone to being purposeful – we do know that purpose defines and directs the destiny of every nation or continent.
Understanding the X-Factor Effect
There are many things that aren’t taught in schools or through training and development programs. There are certain things that no one can teach you except you teach yourself or make up your mind that there’s a need for you to imbibe them as a culture. Some people just do the regular or the required standards, but when it comes to giving more, they give up. What makes a population special is when a good number of it are willing to give the extra factor – the extra factor makes it unique. I am one person that believes that Americans are loud, braggadocious, and sometimes arrogant, but what would the world be like without the Americans? Almost everything that keeps the world going, happy, talented and technological has its origin from United States. Give it to the Americans when it comes to giving the X-Factor; they do all they can, give all they can, and sometimes give more than they can. If every society, nation, race or continent does half of what the Americans do, the world would be a far more comfortable place to live in. Africans are hardworking, strong and agile, but we must also add the X-Factor to it. Enough of making and accepting excuses from our young people who want the governments to do everything for them. Where and when the government isn’t responsive, they must take their destinies in their own hands and somehow, come up with credible methods of survival. They should realize that honey comes out of the strong, and meat can equally come out of the eater. In times of chaos, crisis or turbulence, lateral minds think laterally. It’s time to solve problems using indirect and creative approaches, and it’s time to get out of the box with a new and effective mindset. You can be empowered with skills but if you haven’t got the right mindset to grow beyond your starting point and push yourself from the base of the pyramid, there’s nothing more anyone can do for you. You must see beyond the discriminations against your color, you must grow beyond too much expectation from other people or government, you must think beyond the prevailing limitations of the status quo, and push yourself to where heroes meet. Your story only becomes inspiration when you beat the odds and break into the top. The top is a possibility if you see it to be so. Get out of riff-raff mentality and position yourself in the palace of achievers – this is where population boom turns into real positive human capitals!