On Thursday afternoon we were delighted to welcome Edward Paice to the Bishop Centre for a talk about his recently published book, Youthquake, and why African demography should matter to the world. Edward Paice is Director of the Africa Research Institute and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. After studying History at Cambridge University he worked as an investment analyst in the City before changing tack and moving to Africa to write travel and natural history guides in Kenya and newly independent Eritrea.
Mr Paice began his talk by posing a couple of questions to his audience of students, staff and parents: out of a worldwide population of 7.8bn how many people did they think lived in Africa? (Answer 1.3bn; closest answer Ines: 1bn); and how many sovereign states are there in Africa? (Answer 54; Frankie was spot on!).
Mr Paice then went on to show his audience a very interesting map that illustrated the true extent of the land mass of Africa which actually covers an area greater than Europe, Continental US, China, India and Europe all put together! His charts demonstrated that by 2050, Africa will account for a quarter of the global population and that the populations of more than half of the continent’s 54 countries are set to double in the next 30 years. Critically Africa will also account for a third of the world’s youth population between 15 and 24. The charts very clearly showed how the empowerment and education of women was linked directly to the rates of fertility and therefore population growth. Evidently the demographic growth of Africa is set to have a monumental impact on the world across geopolitics, employment, technological development, the future of the world’s dominant religions, patterns of migration, and climate change.
Mr Paice urged his audience to question many of the cliched generalisations about Africa and some of the over-optimism of some commentators and doom-laden, sensational prophecies of others. He spoke of the need to reimagine the continent as 54 individual states and advocated that the marginalisation of Africa – for example in the approach to sharing of pharmaceutical resources during Covid-19 and under-representation of the African ‘voice’ during COP26 – needs a huge rethink. Given the predicted rise in the under 25 population, youth protest in Africa and the hopes and fears and aspirations of the young people in Africa are going to have a huge impact on the world as a whole.
It was a fascinating talk that definitely provided the audience with much food for thought and Mr Golland thanked Mr Paice for coming to Godolphin to speak. Mr Paice also very generously gave signed copies of his books to our two students who had correctly answered his questions at the beginning of the talk.