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Africa is filled with potential as the population of the continent continues to grow and an increasingly younger demographic begins to take shape—in contrast to many other parts of the world where aging populations are the order of the day.
One of the most important elements Africa must consider involves the future workforce that will carry the continent forward. Here are 10 things you need to know about that workforce and the continent’s potential to adapt to the changing landscape:
1. Africa’s Population Is Booming
Africa is experiencing a population boom, which is both exciting and challenging. UNICEF forecasts suggest that the continent’s population will reach 2.5 billion by 2050 and that by 2100, Africa will be home to 40 percent of the world’s people.
2. Africa Has the Youngest Workforce
The population boom means that the vast majority of Africa’s people will be young, vibrant and ready to contribute to the workforce of a continent with ripe prospects. The fact that other parts of the world are now struggling with aging workers and a population that is imbalanced between young and old puts Africa at an advantage, as 50 percent of the African population is currently under 20 years old.
3. Africa Will Have the Largest Workforce
The fastest-growing and youngest workforce also translates into Africa producing the largest workforce in the near future. Some 122 million people are expected to be added to employment rolls within the next five years, according to forecasts. The advantage of this is clear, as long as jobs are available and the skills needed are being developed among this massive working population.
4. Africa Has the Fastest-Growing Economies
According to recent statistics, 16 out of the 26 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, making an excellent case for investors to put their money into a workforce that will be young and plentiful enough to produce results and make the most out of economies that are consistently expanding on the backs of Africa’s people.
5. Africa Expects Excellent GDP Growth
In tandem with African economies growing well when most of the world is struggling to sustain any growth—and some are falling into recession—African gross domestic product (GDP) growth will also increase, thanks to an ever-expanding workforce.
GDP growth of between 6 percent and 7 percent is expected within sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, which is impressive by any standard. South Africa is expected to experience GDP growth between 2 percent and 3 percent as one of the more developed African nations.
6. Africa’s Middle Class Is Exploding
The middle class in Africa will experience great growth during this period of population expansion. As more money is produced in growing economies, more people are pulled upward into the middle class. In 2010, it was estimated that 150 million people in Africa formed the middle class, and these numbers are set to increase to 210 million by 2020 and to 490 million by 2040.
7. The Skills Mismatch Must Be Addressed
Most African countries face a severe skills mismatch today, meaning that the skills being learned do not correspond to the job opportunities that are available. With about 10 million young people entering the labor force each year, the current youth workforce across 36 African countries displays a 54 percent mismatch between the skills of job seekers and employers’ requirements, according to research from African Economic Outlook. With the looming population and economics booms in mind, this mismatch needs to be rectified fast in order to fill the new available jobs.
8. Africa Has the Fastest-Growing Digital Market
Africans will also represent the fastest-growing digital consumer market in the world, taking advantage of growth and improved Internet penetration and access that will allow for 600 million African Internet users by 2025.
9. Smartphones Are Everywhere
Smartphone penetration continues to grow at an astonishing rate throughout the continent as young people become increasingly digitally focused and mobile. This trend will persist in the future, and it is estimated that there will be around 360 million smartphone users in Africa by 2025.
10. Demographic Opportunities Demand Smart Policies
With the incredible growth that Africa will experience, governments need to recognize the advantages of the shifting demographic structure while putting in the hard work to push forward policies that will allow the people of Africa to realize the opportunities available to them as they strategically deploy the world’s largest and youngest working population in the coming years.
Peter Pedroncelli is a South African freelance journalist. This article appears courtesy of AFK Insider (http://afkinsider.com). Republished by permission from the World Federation of People Management Associations.
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