Africa Needs Population Growth, Not Birth Control


The United Nations recently published its two-yearly update of world population projections. These suggest that Nigeria could rise to 725 million people by 2100. Western media are shrilly calling for Nigeria to put a check on her population growth.

No way, sorry. We Nigerians are rejoicing.

Africans love children. First for financial security. In the past children helped in the farms and the more of them the better. Today, with little or no social security, children are needed to support their parents in old age. Their contributions constitute an informal pension scheme. And having more children means a better pension.

Second, many children ensure that we avoid the problem of ageing populations. We know that in Europe and America, birthrates are far below replacement level. Their populations are ageing and a huge pension debt is resting on the shoulders of a shrinking number sof their working youths. A day of reckoning is looming for them. Nigerians want to avoid this.

Third, our large population supplies our economy with the dynamic and youthful workforce it needs to grow, as well as huge markets for all types of businesses.

Why are Westerners so nervous? Perhaps they believe that Africans will consume all the food. Critics of large population argue that population grows geometrically and food production arithmetically and that soon the human population will outstrip food production and we will all starve. This theory was first floated by Thomas Malthus.

What Malthusians fail to take into consideration is the human spirit of enterprise. Necessity is the mother of invention. This was the case with the breakthrough of Norman Boulaug, the famous scientist who invented high yield crops. Even though Boulaug did not realize it, he had refuted Malthus.

Nor is our large population the primary reason why we are poor. “For these countries to overpopulate themselves like this is a burden on themselves and the world. They are driving themselves into poverty. I suppose they will be expecting other nations to accept their overflow when their irresponsibility makes life in their own countries unbearable,” sniffs a Malthusian reader of The Economist. “High rates of population growth is the number one indicator of under-development,” shouts another.

Such nonsense is often based on ignorance. Even that paragon of exactitude, The Economist, mixed up Niger and Nigeria in its comment on a graph of population growth. But this is a salutary mistake. Let’s compare the two countries. Niger has a population of 15 million and suffers from high unemployment, poverty and an unskilled workforce. It is poorer than Nigeria with its 150 million people by a long margin. Are population and poverty really linked?

The real reason for poverty is corrupt rulers, not a lack of birth control.

Most Africans are ruled by sit-tight leaders who are supported by Western countries because they guarantee secure access to resources. “Rivalry between the United States and the USSR for the rich resources of Congo culminated in General Mobutu Sese Seko’s rule, an extremely corrupt regime that lasted 32 years and sapped the country of its income and stability,” says Paul Johnson in his book Modern Times. African democracy — with some exceptions like Ghana and Botswana — is replete with power-hungry men who cling to power even if it destroys their country. Just think of Kenya, Gabon and recently the Ivory Coast. Such men loot and steal the resources entrusted to them for the development of their people. In many cases they stash their loot in Western banks while the Western governments look the other way.

In 2009 US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton flew around Africa and spoke tough words to many African strongmen. But she sadly refused to comment when asked what the US and its allies are doing to ensure that embezzled funds are returned. Surely this evasive and insincere attitude keeps many Africans poor. Until corrupt leaders know that Europe will not shield them because of their wealth, they will not stop bleeding Africa dry.

Yet the Western propaganda that people make us poor blares on. It is often parroted by our own local media and now many Africans fear having many children. When I was young, I was taught that the world was overpopulated by my primary school teacher. My relatives complained about my mother’s seven children. “A modern woman,” they said, “shouldn’t have so many.”

But we all grew up to be healthy, normal adults and are now a great source of joy and support to my mother and father in their old age. Many of those relatives are envious because in their twilight years they have to deal with few children whom they spoilt silly.

The comfort of a small family is deceptive. Many young people in advanced countries are so spoilt by luxury that even the smallest setback feels intolerable. Euthanasia and birth control result from an inability to cope with suffering, pain and self denial. As one American lady said to me: “My biggest fear is suffering and I am so scared of pain.” No wonder they have high suicide rates!

According to The Economist, “many people in the rich world live alone and die alone.” Even in the US, white people will be in minority in the next ten years because of their low birth rate.

Nigeria and other African countries stand a good chance of becoming world leaders in the coming decades. They will be helping Europe and the US to fill gaps left by acute shortages of manpower. Perhaps it is a sign of the times that a Nigerian father of five is the new head of the United Nations Population Fund. “A world of 7 billion is both a challenge and an opportunity,” says Dr Babatunde Osotimehin.

I totally agree with him.


This article was originally published on under a Creative Commons Licence. If you enjoyed this article, visit for more.


Chinwuba Iyizoba is an electrical engineer in Enugu, Nigeria.

  • Conrad Harrison

    Not sure I agree. Both birth control and population growth are the twos extremes of the problem. Promoting either to all of Africa is inappropriate. An appropriate balance has to be achieved for each locality.

    At most fundamental: mass and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. There is only so much biomass on this planet. Two of its many forms are life and its food supply. If we convert all the available biomass on our continents into people, then there is none for our food supply. The population cannot be sustained.

    Some places can increase their populations and still provide food for, others cannot feed their existing populations. Humans however are not plants, they don’t have roots they have legs: humans are meant to be mobile not contrained by national boundaries. So one primary problem is that people have become trapped in places that cannot supply food, and yet not permitted to move to where the food is.

    If can achieve balance with population growth, and reap the benefits of large extended families, then that is good. But not any more sensible to promote as a general solution than imposed birth control.

    Each situation requires its own unique solution, not solutioneering imposing a solution that has worked elsewhere.

    • Nick

      >t most fundamental: mass and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. There is only so much biomass on this planet.

      OK, but _how much_ there is?

      We have enough resources to feed far, far more than 10 billion people.

      In an even longer time scale, we will have conquered other planets.

      • Cord Hamrick

        My understanding is that a rough estimate of our ability to support human beings is in the low trillions.

        So, yes, there’s enough excess capacity.

    • chinwuba

      Dear Conrad Harrison, I enjoyed reading the comments about my article posted here in your blog, it enriched me and I am happy that many people are intellectually convinced that the myth of population explosion has to be links that I found helpful, more in-dept, debunking this great hoax

  • proscientia

    This was an interesting read. At first, this population increase sounded enormous, but after doing a little math, it became obvious that it’d be even less than 3 children per couple (assuming the children were conceived every 25 years and survived to adulthood and had the same number of children and that people lived for 75 years).

    • chinwuba

      I am grateful you did the mathematics. Nice to know that, thank you proscientia

  • Mary P.

    My observation is that the biggest predictors of poverty are corruption and immorality. The author correctly points out that societies where corruption and graft are the norm tend to have a lot of poverty. The rule of law allows the building of human capital and wealth. In the US a whole lot of poverty is driven by illegitmacy (at times over generations), drug and alcolhol abuse, and the breakdown of the family. If you eliminated these, you would eliminate most poverty. Ethical, hardworking people supported by a system of just laws are resources of weath.

  • Mary

    “……We Nigerians are rejoicing. Africans love children.” Such beautiful, wise words. As a rule, I rarely see the type of joy on a Western child’s face that I see on African children’s faces. Western children seem either bewildered or wound up, screaming like maniacs, and aggressive, constantly seeking attention as if they’re starring in a movie or music video; African children seem so full of joy and innocence. And please don’t bother pointing out that there are miserable African children and happy Western children. I’ll give you that. I’m just comparing your average American kid from middle America with his African counterpart.

    • chinwuba

      Thank you Mary. You Observe correctly that African children are joyful. He who needs less has most. Someone said to me that when parents give a child everything he asks for, they lie to that child. In Africa, little is enough to please us, and our joy is in life, our families, cousin, nieces and nephews. It is true as well that when comfort and pleasure abounds, the body seeks for the next level, and the next. man is insatiable, because the law of diminishing returns sets to play at the satisfaction of each level of pleasure and comfort. It is wise for parents to teach children to self restraint and moderation in search of pleasure. That, perhaps will help

  • The growth of population in Nigeria is to be celebrated I believe only in the context of traditional marriages, i.e. one man and one woman, i.e. as per a Christian marriage. Does the author celebrate the policy of one man with multiple wives in the Muslim north of the country? The tactic is to outbreed non-Muslims in order to eventually take control. Human life for sure is to be celebrated but that is not the whole story.

    • chinwuba

      No, I do-not approve or celebrate multiplicity of any type in marriage. The islamic religion unfortunately is polygamous. I lived in Northern Nigeria as a southern christian living among Muslim for many years. I think their religion gives them the leverage, perhaps that the reason why they have a so much political advantage over southern Christians who, more ready to imitate the West, and in spite of being Christians, are adopting anti-life, lifestyles. They do so to their detriment, however. If they do not change this anti-life mindset, the Muslim northerners will have the numbers to win every elections held in Nigeria, now and in the future. I think the same goes for Europe and the rest of the world.

    • chinwuba
  • CS

    Excellent article. Common sense wisdom, backed by cold, hard reality.

    Every so often, for about the last ten years or so, I’ve come across the articles/speeches by people IN AFRICA who are asking the West to take a hike with regards to its imperialistic population control agenda. It’s a shame that these voices are not more widely heard by those with the Planned Barrenhood overpopulation agenda. Or, maybe they hear it, but choose to ignore it.

  • Devra

    “The comfort of a small family is deceptive. Many young people in advanced countries are so spoilt by luxury that even the smallest setback feels intolerable. Euthanasia and birth control result from an inability to cope with suffering, pain and self denial. As one American lady said to me: “My biggest fear is suffering and I am so scared of pain.” No wonder they have high suicide rates!”
    I loved the whole article, but this was my favorite part. I’m hoping you will write lots more in this vein–otherwise too many people just assume that the population controllers who presume to speak for Africa really have a right to do so.

  • Great to hear from an African perspective on this subject. Just this weekend, my wife and I stopped to buy something from a man from Kenya. When we introduced him to our four young children, he just kept saying “beautiful! beautiful! God has blessed you!”–all with a big smile on his face. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

    God bless Africa and protect them from the evil ideologies of some in our country.

  • k

    Nobody is talking about other species. It’s not just about us. The more people that populate the planet, the less habitat there is for flora and fauna. Every day, a species goes extinct. There have never been more extinctions than in the last 100 years, which also coincides with population explosion. Many people who are for reducing the population are actually for LIFE, and for all the types of life that this planet contains. We owe it to them to give them room to live and to also propogate, like we do. Extinction is forever.

  • Tarek – Tunisia

    The ship is sinking and the fisherman says what a great catch today.

    I wonder how people like you living among all the illnesses of overpopulation says we need more children, while people living in prosperous countries are crying for Africans.

    I must say either you are blind, or heartless. Otherwise, I can’t say you are ignorant as you already know Malthus.

  • Niknak

    The day will come that you all will have to eat
    your lovely happy , but hungry , chlidren !

  • Robert Carnegie

    Hello, Nigeria! You have AIDS. Bye-buh-bye-bye.

    As a European I was momentarily worried about the mighty Malthusian conquering wave of vigorous Nigerians, then I remembered about AIDS. So let’s see who dies out first. Obviously Europe doesn’t have a selfish reason to help you folks out with the cost of birth control any more, either. The same stuff could stop you getting AIDS, though. (Note: raping children does not, as some people are said to believe.)

  • Terry

    I agree with the article. Africa needs more young people as they are the future of the world. Thank you for this piece. It’s interesting that one very rarely sees articles stating that Asia, Europe or America should reduce its population growth. Hypocrisy at its finest. Africa is still underpopulated compared to other continents. I hope this article has a lasting impact.

  • Tony

    African nations need to bind together their resources and fight the warlords that are ruining their countries.

  • oevega

    Saying that Africa needs population growth when millions are starving, it is really stupid.

    Africa is the poorest continent worlwide, and lives on foreign aid. It will never get out of poverty if it keeps breeding without control.

  • Frank

    The author and several of the commenters could not be more wrong. A person would have to be willfully ignorant to think otherwise.

  • Eron

    So, should Americans stop sending money to feed all the starving African children we seen on TV? I’ve never sent any, but a lot of people do, and I try to insist we should be helping unfortunate Amercian children. Not trying to be offensive, I would just like professional opinion.

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