Premium Study shows that population has more than doubled in West Africa in 26 years

A report produced by the African Union (AU) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that from 1990 to 2016 the population in Western Africa (a subregion comprised of 15 countries, including Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau) has more than doubled.

According to a report titled 'Development Dynamics in Africa - Growth, Employment and Inequalities 2018', there were 170 million people in the western region of the African continent in 1990.

This figure had more than doubled in 2017, with the AU and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimating that by 2050 the population of Western African countries (Beni, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) will reach 809 million people.

In the age group between 15 and 24, the study predicts that in 2035 "the population will increase by 73% and reach 117 million people."

The report shows that from 1990 to 2013 the number of people living in poverty rose to 144,4 million (in a population of 367,6 million) although the poverty rate dropped from 55.4% to 43.8%.

But if the poverty rate in Western Africa has dropped, the number of people has increased, and according to the AU and OECD report, many of them still rank among the poorest.

In this African subregion, 'informal jobs' account for 68% to 90% of labor situations, and young people in particular are often affected by periods of long unemployment.

Among the 15 nations that make up this subregion, Guinea-Bissau is the country with the highest percentage of people employed in agriculture (90%), followed by Cape Verde (77%), Niger (77%), and Nigeria (75%).

Access to basic services has improved - 79% of the population had access to drinking water from 2000 to 2017 - and human development had the lowest rate on the continent.

In this African subregion, social security "is still insufficient" and countries are still affected by "rampant gender inequality."

The AU and the OECD warn that "inclusive growth" in Western Africa will require new strategies in areas such as "the creation of cross-border corridors, agrifood chains, and access to land and redistribution policies," as well as the "creation of the skills required by the job market and investments in the private sector," and "improvements in the institutionalization of capacity-building, corporate regulatory frameworks, and taxes."

'Development Dynamics in Africa - Growth, Employment and Inequalities 2018' is the first report jointly produced by the AU and the OECD.

The report focuses on the relationships between growth, employment and inequality in Africa and their implications in strategic frameworks.