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A child on the sales floor of a tobacco market in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 15, 2017 A child on the sales floor of a tobacco market in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 15, 2017 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Why Africa’s Future Will Determine the Rest of the World’s

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

If climate change is the most important matter of common concern around the world, what comes second? Perhaps nothing close. But by my lights, the usual looming questions—about the fate of American power and influence, Brexit, the related viability of the European Union, and the many uncertainties surrounding the rise of China—seem almost parochial in comparison to one that gets immeasurably less international attention: the future of employment in Africa, where unprecedented demographic transitions are underway.

Based on current projections, the continent’s population of nearly 1.2 billion people will rise to 2.5 billion by the middle of this century—more than China and India combined. From there, it becomes harder to predict with any certainty, but Africa could very well have a staggering 4 billion people or more by 2100, according to United Nations projections, meaning that the continent alone would account for more than a third of the human population. ...

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