Why Is The Population Of Nigeria Growing So Fast?

Pamela William
Find out why the population of Nigeria is expected to reach a staggering 375 million people in the next three decades and how this growth will impact the environment and the country’s limited resources. Learn about the role of cultural beliefs in the high fertility rates and the challenges of addressing population growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria. Photo: Daniel Sikpi | Pexels

According to recent statistics, over 15 million people in Lagos are struggling to compete for basic amenities, highlighting the severe issues faced by Nigeria’s growing population.

In the next three decades, Nigeria’s population is expected to skyrocket, going from 216 million people this year to a staggering 375 million people. This surge in population will make Nigeria the fourth most populous country in the world, trailing behind only India, China, and the United States, according to the United Nations.

Nigeria’s Rapid Population Growth

The People of Nigeria. Photo: Tope A Asokere/Pexels

As the world’s population is projected to hit 8 billion people shortly, Nigeria is just one of the eight countries predicted to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050, alongside Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other nations.

India, Pakistan, and the Philippines have also been identified as countries contributing significantly to the world’s population growth. The exponential rise in population will result in a more significant number of people competing for limited resources, such as water. This population growth could lead to an increase in hunger as climate change continues to affect crop production.

The People of Africa
The People of Africa. Photo: Denis Ngai/Pexels

The United Nations has highlighted the need to slow down population growth to mitigate environmental damage in the latter half of this century. The rapid increase in population could exacerbate the already existing environmental crisis, further damaging the planet’s fragile ecosystems.

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing an exponential increase in its population, with a growth rate of 2.5%, which is more than three times the global average. Although some of this can be attributed to increased life expectancy, family size remains the primary driving factor.

On average, women in sub-Saharan Africa have 4.6 births, which is twice the current global average of 2.3.

The high population growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa can also be attributed to the prevalence of child marriage, with 4 out of 10 girls getting married before they reach 18, according to UN statistics. Child marriage is a significant factor in high fertility rates, which contribute to population growth.

Teen pregnancy rates on the continent are the highest globally, with approximately half of the children born worldwide to mothers under 20 being in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Role Of Cultural Beliefs In Nigeria’s Population Growth

Nigeria's Cultural Practices
Nigeria’s Cultural Practices. Photo: Tope A Asokere/Pexels

According to Omolayo Adeleke, a nurse in Nigeria’s busiest city, customs and traditions in some parts of the country are significant contributors to the high population figure.

Despite efforts to address high fertility rates and promote family planning, the United Nations has stated that any attempts to reduce family sizes now would come too late to significantly slow the population growth projections for 2050. According to the UN, about two-thirds of this growth will be driven by the momentum of past growth, indicating the need for sustained and comprehensive efforts to address population growth and related challenges.

Large families in sub-Saharan Africa are often rooted in cultural beliefs that view children as a blessing and a source of support for their elders. In many communities, having more sons and daughters is seen as a path to greater success for the family and increased comfort in retirement.

These cultural values and traditions can contribute to the high demand for resources and put pressure on already limited infrastructure. Addressing these cultural beliefs and promoting family planning and education around reproductive health is crucial to ensuring sustainable population growth in the region.


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