The 2019 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group will be held from 11-14 June 2019, in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Find out more

Human Development

Human capital promises to be the key driver of African growth. With booming population and increased urbanization, the importance in education, healthcare, and housing becomes increasingly evident.


  • Africa a continent larger than China, India, United States, Japan, and most of Europe combined is becoming the next frontier market.
  • With rapidly growing population, increased urbanization, and what is soon-to-be the world’s largest workforce, Africa has an opportunity to transform into a global economic powerhouse.
  • Africa’s population is young and growing rapidly.
  • Just over 1 billion people live in Africa, half of whom are under the age of 20.
  • Whilst population growth in other regions has slowed, Africa’s has increased by 2.42% per year for the past 30 years.
  • By 2050, the African population is forecast to rise to at least 2.4 billion and will continue to grow to 4.2 billion, four times its current size in the next 100 years.
  • Sustained population growth results from mortality rates falling by more than fertility rates.

People in Cities

  • Urban share of Africa’s population has doubled from 19% to 39% over the last 50 years, which means more than 360 million new city dwellers.
  • By 2030 urban populations will increase by an additional 350 million people.
  • Percentage of people living in cities is higher than in India and will reach 58% by 2030.
  • Africa has 52 cities with populations of one million or higher, the same number as for Europe.
  • Several African cities, such as Dar es Salaam and Kinshasa, are now and will continue to be among the fastest-growing in the world.
  • Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent in the world.
  • Good governance and urban investment will ensure that benefits of urbanization are maximized while negative effects are minimized.
  • Slum-dwellers currently account for half of urban inhabitants.
  • Competition, transfer of knowhow, and spill-over effects can make cities a source of rapid economic growth.


  • Life expectancy in the continent is expected to rise to over 70 years by 2060, though not without sub-regional variations.
  • While Africa has made steady improvements over recent decades, it remains the global region with the lowest average life expectancy and highest mortality ratios.
  • Africa’s reduction in child mortality over the past decade is one of the biggest and best stories in development.
  • Average child and infant mortality will reduce from 93 per 1,000 live births in 2015 to 32 per 1,000 live births by 2060.
  • Maternal mortality ratio although still high in comparison to other world regions decreased from 708 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 415 per 100,000 live births in 2010, supported by declining fertility rates and greater access to contraceptives.
  • Africa will continue to be challenged by high HIV/AIDS burden.
  • People needing antiretroviral treatment: 7.5 million today, ~30 million by 2022.
  • People with Diabetes: 12.1 million patients today, 24 million by 2030.
  • People with Cancer: 681,000 new cases in 2008, 1.6 million new cases a year by 2030.
  • Sustained improvements in health and education will help economic growth become more inclusive.


  • Africa has made good progress toward achieving universal primary education. More needs to be done to improve primary completion rates, the quality of education, and secondary and tertiary enrollments.
  • 30 million children are out of school.
  • 35% of the youth have no access to secondary education or technical skills development.
  • Half of all children reach adolescence without achieving literacy or numeracy.
  • Urgent action is needed to improve the quality of education in Africa.
  • For many young people, six years of school are insufficient to build literacy skills.
  • Population growth, higher demand for education and attrition of resources to hire and train teachers are driving demand in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Public spending in education currently averages around 5% of Africa’s GDP from just over 1% in Central African Republic to 12% in Lesotho.
  • Africa must begin to provide comprehensive and quality education in order to break the poverty chain.
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