by Farouk Martins Aresa
Many years ago, a professor from Sick Children Hospital in Toronto asked health workers during orientation: who is going to feed them after saving all these children in African countries? It sounded callous then but after reflection for years, reality of that statement sunk in. It was a challenge not born out of indifference but genuine concern. By year 2050, annual population increases would be 42 million; from 1.2b now doubling to 2.4 billion, according to the UN.
The alarm among world population experts is the pending Africa population explosion. By 2100, Africa would be 82% of total growth; who is going to feed us? Ironically, Africa has 60% of world arable land. Yet famine exists due mainly to manmade calamities, not natural disaster. Low GDP failed policies, mis-education, low storage of food and vegetables demonstrate lack of planning. Blame ethnic conflicts, terrorists’ activities and intolerance on one another for overcrowding?
China solution of one child per family was harsh but we can empower ladies over their wombs to curb population: by small business and education. One of the hardest lessons we can teach children is to work twice as hard as others in order to get ahead with too many kids to feed. The notion that fingers are not equal belong to our days not their own days. Yet egalitarian societies teach us that everyone has equal opportunity as long as they work hard and play by the rules.
Education and small business empowerment allow women to have some say in the amount of children they want. They would think twice on how to manage the house, family, job and how they would feed and provide better quality of life for their children instead of waiting for “God to provide.” Most men also appreciate women that help their standard of living and provide both economic and emotional support balanced with opportunity cost of childcare and nursery.
The rate of economic growth in Africa is not enough to achieve poverty reduction. There are simply no control or constraints on population to deter explosive growth from our Continent in general and Nigeria in particular that will add more people to the world’s population by 2050 than any other country. This is not sustainable even with mineral production in South Africa, Congo, Niger and Nigeria. South Africa growth from 0.6 percent in 2017 to 1.1 percent in 2018. Nigeria went from recession to a 1.2 percent growth rate in 2017, going to 2.4 percent in 2018.
Indeed, African countries that depend mainly on agriculture have rosier GDP based on less corruption and better planning. Growth in non-resource- intensive countries is anticipated to remain solid, supported by infrastructure investment, resilient services sectors, and recovery of agricultural production. Ethiopia is forecasted to expand by 8.3% in 2017, Tanzania by 7.2 %, Côte d’Ivoire by 6.8%, and Senegal by 6.7%.
We have heard stories about those who toiled and made it while others slept. There are also those that pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Unfortunately, those days of hard work to get rich seem to be rare with unsustainable population. People work smart these days; cheat, loot, swindle or beat the system. It is even more so when young people believe that some are more privileged than others. While the rich tell everyone to work hard, their kids are favored.
So why do some folks say we will always have the poor among us? Others said the poor work so hard, they hardly have enough time to think about how to make money. Working the hardest jobs, sometimes two or three at the same time. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, many work two or three part-time jobs. They are always on their way to or from one job or another. Husbands and wives switched children at the bus stops before getting home or to work.
There are poor folks working from dawn to dusk. You see them when driving to work and on your way back home, to the recreation spots and back home at night. Many times, we wonder when they get to sleep. Well, it must be stated that poor people are not the only ones working long hours. Some students go to school full time and also work full time. Others do one part-time and the other full time. But only for a limited period, not most of their lives like the poor.
The bigger fear of man is the threat or relief from hunger as in stomach infrastructure, followed by emotional appeal to ethnicity in Africa. We have some poor people living big, imitating the wealthy but ignorant of the way nouvelle riche make their money or their connection leading to their wealth. They soon run into trouble when they cannot keep up with the joneses. Since they want to be like them, they support whatever the rich do blindly. More wives more children!
Make no mistake about the fact that politicians similarly swindle poor people in developing and developed countries whether they vote or not. Indeed, poor people in both worlds are very religious, so they do not believe in population control. They think climate change is a hoax or the makings of the gods. But in each case, it is the poor that suffer the consequences. Desert encroachment in Tropical countries, hurricanes devastating vulnerable poor in rich countries.
Overpopulation and crowding in African countries has increased poverty and flight from the Continent. While it is true that population in the developed countries in Europe and Americas are aging with less young people to support them, that has not changed China and Japan policies on restriction of immigrants. Africans in any country are badly treated since they have failed to build a successful nation of their own or control hedonic tendencies for corruption.
If anything, there would be more strenuous immigration policies in the developed countries even when it is obvious that they need more young immigrants to serve their aging population. It would be a double edge sword since they would pick the best brains and skills in Africa, only to be underemployed or sent to inhospitable areas and given undesirable jobs nobody wants.
The statistics that 85% of trained physicians in Nigeria left for greener pastures while remaining 15% are still looking for their way out of the Country chills the blood. There is too many mouths to feed in Nigeria. On the other hand, all the Community Health officers remain in their posted areas in the rural parts of Nigeria. There is definitely something wrong with our planning and priorities. No country can afford such brain drain. We can imagine other professionals leaving.
Overpopulation has many consequences beyond redemption.