With 1.3 billion people, spread over an area of more than 30 million km2, Africa is less populated than India which is ten times smaller (3.4 million km2) or than China (9 , 6 million km2).
However, the continent has the highest fertility rate in the world, with an average of 4.4 children per woman, according to the PRB. With improvement in health conditions, in particular a drop in infant mortality, Africa has started its baby boom.
This increase in births, while the continent is still far from overpopulated, explains the youth of its population which represents more than 75%. In addition, Africa's population is expected to increase by 91%, from 1.3 billion in 2020 to 2.6 billion in 2050; which represents almost 60% of the global population growth forecast during the same period.
An example illustrating the youth of the African population is the continent's reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the global death toll reaches 2.4 million people, Africa has just over 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths. It is the continent least affected by the pandemic, a situation that experts attribute to the very high proportion of young people in the population unlike Europe.
For the more optimistic, Africa's significant demographic growth allows it to have a larger working population capable of boosting its productivity. This prospect, which also allows it to rely on a growing internal market, offers the continent a possibility of accelerated economic development.
But for the most pessimists who rely moreover on the level of development of African countries, this rise in the birth rate will generate demographic pressure difficult for the economies of the continent to bear and significant waves of emigration.
Placed at the heart of the national policy priorities of African civil societies and development partners, the issue of the economic integration of young people pushes actors to propose new responses, in particular to deal with underemployment and the precariousness of employment and activities.
Providing jobs in sufficient quantity and quality for all young people in Africa is indeed one of the greatest challenges for the countries of the continent as for the whole planet.
African demography requires the massive and rapid creation of jobs. Out of a population of 1.3 billion, 453 million are aged 15 to 35 and 30 million of them arrive each year on the labor market, that is to say three quarters of the entries of young people at the global level. This means that we have to double the number of jobs, that is to say create 450 million additional jobs while the current active population is around 500 million. The stakes are high because it is considered that the number of jobs created is already insufficient and the schooling rate is 71.7% for young people. This gap between supply and demand risks widening if nothing is done, which would create situations of great insecurity and unemployment in certain regions.
The concept of employment is complex on the African continent and covers different realities. In some contexts, employment can be salaried, stable, framed by a labor code and social protection. In others, it may be informal, unstable, carried out within a micro-unit of family production and with optional remuneration.
The information available shows that youth participation rates are particularly high in the poorest countries of the region and, if they decline as the average level of income of the countries increases, then jobs are better there.
The rates of young people who are neither in employment, neither in the school system, nor in training, as well as the unemployment rates, are higher in the richer countries of Africa. It appears that in the poorest countries, young people cannot afford not to work and are forced to accept precarious jobs or to be in multiple activities.