As is often the case in history, emergencies in the West such as the COVID epidemic and in Asia such as the Afghan crisis are seen as predominant – meanwhile Africa is left on the sideline, with its economic and human role in world history being forgotten. This look, which comes directly from Africa, helps us remember this continent of more than 1 billion people.
We should not forget.
Africa is home to 97% of the world’s copper reserves and 80% of the world’s coltan reserves. Coltan is one of the fundamental components in all of our phones, cameras, and video games. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there is 50% of the world’s reserves of cobalt, which is used for aircraft engines, turbines, weapons, etc. It has 57% of the world's gold reserves, 23% of the world’s uranium and phosphate reserves. Africa contains 32% of the world’s reserves of manganese (steel, aluminum, electric batteries, fertilizers, etc.), 41% of the world reserves of vanadium (ceramic, steel, aluminum, etc.), and 49% of the world’s platinum reserves. Half of platinum consumption is linked to the automotive market (catalytic exhaust) and 79% of African platinum reserves are in South Africa. Some African countries are part of the main world producers of diamonds, which are Russia, Botswana, Australia, DR-Congo, and the Central African Republic.
The Arab countries, Nigeria and other states in Black Africa have significant oil and natural gas reserves, accounting for 14% of world’s reserves. On the topic of water resources – let’s just think of the Congo River basin, which is very important, although not sufficiently exploited.
When it comes to the food sector, Africa has fertile land, forests, and large fishing grounds. Most of these resources are underexploited or monopolized by foreign companies.
The demographic of Africa is evolving: 36.45 million births per year. The African birth rate is especially high in sub-Saharan and central Africa. Africa surpassed the figure of one billion people in 2011. The world’s fertility record belongs to Niger, with more than 7 children/woman. The youngest population is also found in Niger with 49% under the age of 15. Nigeria will be in 2050 the third most populous country in the world with 433 million inhabitants, surpassing the United States. The adolescent fertility rate is extremely high in West and Central Africa. The average adolescent birth rate is 146 per 1,000.
Youth and employment.
Africa has 200 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24, representing 20% of the population. In 2005, 62% of the total population of Africa was under 25 years of age. If you add that the fertility rate that remains high, the result is tremendous pressure on African countries to create jobs and a scary labor pool, as Africa, like the rest of the world, faces great difficulties in getting young people into the job market. In fact, 43% of the total unemployed world population is young, while they only represent 25% of the workforce.
In Africa, 3 out of 5 unemployed people are young. 72% of the youth population lives on less than $2 a day. However, young Africans are not a homogeneous group, and their employment prospects vary by region, gender, and age, level of education, ethnicity, and health. Many young people try to escape poverty by migrating to urban areas, although this does not necessarily imply an improvement in their quality of life. In Africa, young people represent 36.9% of the workforce and 59.5% of the total unemployed, a much higher percentage than in the rest of the world. The percentage of youth unemployment in relation to the total unemployed reaches 83% in Uganda, 68% in Zimbabwe, and 56% in Burkina Faso. The youth unemployment rate tends to be higher than that of adults and affects young people who have received the most training.
Unemployment also affects young women more: they are more likely not to find work. On the other hand, women work longer hours than men do. In Ethiopia, for example, women work an average of 48 hours a week compared to 32 hours a week for men. Women dedicate 36 hours of their weekly working time to housework, compared to 15 hours for men.
War against Africa?
Africa is therefore “a demographic giant.” Globalization wants to reduce the birth rate in Africa (sub-Saharan) for several reasons. It is a way of annihilating the population of the ‘Third World’, a fight for power? Many pretexts are used for this, starting with the degradation of the climate, forgetting that everywhere in the world multinational companies are at the root of the degradation of climate change. If it weren’t for the Amazon and the African rainforest, wouldn’t the world be worse than it is today?
Contraceptive methods, abortion and the like are rampant in Africa limiting the individual and social freedoms of choice that the rich claim for themselves. In Africa, there are still uninhabited spaces. By limiting births, no one will exploit these spaces; will it be so that they can be monopolized by foreign powers?
This pressure for demographics to shrink in Africa is fueling the idea that certain diseases and wars facing the continent are coming out of malicious laboratories to achieve forced demographic reduction.
African leaders and friendly countries, on the contrary, should invest to create jobs, harmonize the business world (fees and taxes) in order to attract investors, regularize the education system by promoting technical and vocational education to fight against unemployment that, to a large extent, is at the root of emigration.
Population growth is in fact a factor of development when it encounters an adequate organization of state structures that guides young people to play their role in society. It is the infernal disorganization of the institutions – despite the multiple natural resources – which condemns, for example, the vast Congolese territory to live in misery. A disorganization of a state that plays the game of foreign powers who seize its immense wealth.