In 1995, the total population of Africa has been 719 million, which is almost identical to the total population of Europe. The projected annual rate of change of population for Africa is estimated to be 2.37% for 1995-2000, then 2.21% for 2000-2005, estimated to be further declining to 1.79% for the period of 2020-2025. This growth is significantly higher than the world total growth, which is projected to be 1.37% for 1995-2000, 1.20% for 2000-2005 and 0.84 for 2020-2025.
The population below 14 years of age makes up about 44% of the total population in 1995, slowly declining to 35.7% by the year 2025. The population above 65 years of age constitutes a relatively small percentage, namely 3.2% in 1995, growing slowly up to 4.2 in 2025. Africa is approximately 13 % higher than the world total on population below 14 years of age for 1995 and will still be around 11.5% higher in 2025. These figures illustrate that the economically active population of the continent has to carry a considerable burden, which is much heavier than that of the rest of the world. In the case of population above 65 years of age, Africa is 3.3 % clearly below the world total.
Africa's population is predominantly rural. The urbanization level stayed at 35 % in 1995. Although Africa is the lowest urbanized continent, its growth of urbanization is the highest. Africa's urban population has been consistently growing above 4% per annum from 1950 onwards. Even between 2000 and 2005, it is estimated to grow 4% per annum declining to 3% in 2025. Not before 2025, it is estimated that Africa's urban population will be larger than its rural component.
The growth rate of the number of household's is projected to increase from 2.58% in 1995 to 2.83% in 2010 and then to slightly decrease to 2.70% in 2025. This growth is somewhat higher than the growth of the total population indicating a slight reduction in household size.
Life expectancy in Africa has been 51.1 years for the period 1990 - 1995. It is projected to continuously grow up to about 59.0 years for the period 2015 - 2020. Africa has by far the lowest life expectancy of all regions. By comparison, the world total life expectancy for the period of 1990 - 1995 is 64. 1 years and is estimated to reach 70.6 years for the period 2015 - 2020.
Housing and Social Indicators
Data on housing and selected social indicators do not exist for Africa as a whole in an aggregated form. Even at the country level, this data is sparse. A summary on individual countries, which have data on such topics, will be the basis for analysis in this section.
Among the North African countries, there is a good data coverage on the percentage of housing units with piped water and the percentage of housing units with toilets for Morocco and Tunisia. Both of them differ considerably in the percentages recorded on these topics. In 1990, Tunisia showed 99.6% of housing units with piped water, in both urban and rural areas, and has a 94.1% coverage of housing units with toilets in urban areas, whereas this figure is only 45% in rural areas. Morocco's percentage of housing units with piped water improved significantly from 32.1% in 1985 to 44.1% in 1995. There is, however, a wide gap between urban and rural; the former being 67.7% in 1990 and 74.2% in 1995 and the latter being only 1.6% in 1990 and 4.0% in 1995. Similarly, the statistical topic percentage of housing units with toilets shows improvement from 1985 to 1995, namely from 52.5% to 66% and there is equally a very significant difference between urban and rural. In 1985, housing units with toilets in urban areas comprised 90.1% in 1985 and 91.1% in 1995; the figures for the rural areas are 18.8% in 1985 and 32.6% in 1995.
There is also a good coverage of the afore-mentioned statistical topics for Sudan. The percentage of housing units with piped water in 1985 was 28.7% and in 1995 32.9%. Again, there is a pronounced difference between the urban and rural situation. In 1995, housing units with piped water constituted 62.1% whereas in the rural areas, the coverage was only 18.4%. Interestingly, the percentage of housing units with toilet declined from 60.9% in 1985 to 57.7% in 1995. The urban/rural breakdown is not particularly, more precisely, 73.1% urban and 50.2% rural for 1995.
Malawi is another country, which has some data on housing units with piped water and toilet. All data refer to 1990. The percentage of housing units with piped water is 22.2%. The figure for urban areas is 75.3% and for rural areas is 16.9%. The percentage of housing units with toilets for the total is 45.5%, urban 83.3% and rural 45% in 1990.
Mali provided a few figures on percentage of housing units with water in 1990. These figures are: 6.1% for the total areas, 25% for urban areas and only 1.1% for rural areas. The percentage of housing units with toilet is reported as 53.1% in 1990.
There is also a fairly good data coverage on percentage of population with access to safe water and percentage of population with access to sanitation. The time coverage ranges from 1980 to 1994 and data for both urban and rural for around 52 African countries are available. Concerning the reliability of data, however, some word of caution is required. The data stem from WHO's and UNICEF's Water and Sanitation Decade and are gathered from participating national authorities. The latter seem to have the ambition to report better results than the real situation. The "data collection instrument" used in the exercise, can be better described as a self-assessment and management tool. Nevertheless, since as earlier mentioned, the country coverage is extremely good for African data availability standards, the aggregated data is presented and analyzed below. The data have been calculated as a weighted average covering from 1992-1994.
The weighted average of population with access to safe drinking water for a total of 52 African countries covering the period from 1992 to 1994 is 49%. There is a significant difference between urban and rural areas, namely 57% for urban areas and 34% for rural areas.
The weighted average of population with access to sanitation for the same countries and same periods shows a similar pattern but a lower level. Only approximately 34% of the total population has access to sanitation. In urban areas this percentage rises considerably to 54% whereas in rural areas of Africa, this figure is as low as 21%.
Overall, it can safely be said that due to a high proportion of rural population, the percentage of households who are owners’ occupants typically ranges from 70% to 85%. Egypt with only 30% home ownership is an exception to that general picture.
The total number of illiterate population 15 years and over for Africa
has been 179 millions in 1995. This absolute figure has been growing from
159 in 1980. Percentage-wise, however, illiteracy has been reduced from
60.2% in 1980 to 43.8% in 1995. An important feature of illiteracy in Africa
is the marked difference between male and female illiteracy. As a rule,
illiteracy is more than 20% higher among females and in 1995, more than
50% African females were illiterate.
Space, Infrastructure and Economy
Data for the African continent on space, infrastructure and the economy
is rather sparse. An interesting variable is population density. As in
the case of other continents, population density is increasing over time
in Africa. The figures are 185 persons per 1000 ha in 1985, 212 in 1990
and 243 persons in 1000 ha in 1995. This is about half of the world total
in 1985, i.e. 372 persons per 1000 ha and almost half of the world total
in 1990, i.e. 405 persons per 1000 ha and 436 per 1000 ha in 1995.