The Future Is Now: Preparing for Africa’s Aging Population
Sophie Okolo
September 2016

Africa is the most youthful continent in the world. According to Voice of America, approximately two-thirds of the continent’s 1.1 billion people are younger than 35 years old. What will happen when these youths become older adults? 

While investing in young people is important for the continent’s transformation, Africa also needs to prepare for a growing older population that will present new issues in the decades ahead. 

By the end of this century, Africa will be home to almost 39 percent of the world’s population, including more than 700 million people aged 60 and older. Continuing progress in public health and medicine promise to make that population boom, and that longevity, possible. However, this demographic phenomenon can be expected to strain families, communities, and nations, with the incidence of aging-associated diseases climbing to all-time highs.

Even now, older people face serious challenges on the continent. According to the Global AgeWatch Index 2015, “Despite Africa’s rapid economic growth, poor social and economic wellbeing for older people means most countries continue to rank in the bottom quarter of the Index.” The AgeWatch index does not tell the entire story for the continent, since only 11 of Africa’s 54 countries were evaluated due to lack of data. However, it provides insight into the state of older people around the world. 

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