On the one hand, more people mean more brilliant ideas. This means more university graduates, doctors, engineers, business people and farmers. But researchers at the Atlantic Council fear that the rate at which the population is increasing means that the Western Sahel is missing out on the so-called demographic dividend.
The demographic dividend is a period of accelerated economic growth resulting from a decline in a country’s birth and death rates. This leads to a larger and better educated workforce, fewer dependents, and higher productivity rates.
Since the 1950s, the fastest developing countries that have reached higher average levels of development, such as South Korea or Vietnam, have done so when their populations have reached a median age of around 25 or 26. .
But this “remains a distant goal for the states of the Western Sahel,” the report said.
“Rather than producing an economic dividend, the conditions engendered by the persistent youth, rapid growth and fertility of the populations of the region exceed the capacities of state-run services, generate vast urban slum conditions, slow down, even block economic and social progress, and exacerbate ethnic tensions.